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NEW vegetable encyclopedia 3-2011 Powered By Docstoc
					         Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia
This encyclopedia provides basic information on all commonly grown vegetables. It was designed to
help Purdue Master Gardeners answer question on vegetables and vegetable gardening.
   -   Use it as an encyclopedia, looking up information on specific vegetables rather than reading it
       through as a book.
   -   Don’t print this document out without looking it over first – it’s 94 pages! You can print out
       just the pages you need later, should you want a paper copy of the information. Each section
       introduction and individual vegetable has its own page, so printing just what you want is easy.
       If you want to print out the whole encyclopedia in the most concise form, see the Extension
       Educator at your Purdue Extension county office for a printable copy.
   -   Use the Bookmarks to the left side of this document to find specific topics. Page numbers are
       also given in the Table of Contents on page 2.
   -   Read Basics of Vegetable Gardening (page 3), which provides basic, general information on
       garden layout, fertilization, planting, and care, before you look up specific vegetables.
   -   Use the links to find more information. Links to websites are indicated by a solid line. If the
       link is broken, just use your web browser to search for the name of the site. Links to
       information within the encyclopedia are indicated by a dashed line. Just click and go.

                              About the Encyclopedia Listings
Descriptions of commonly grown vegetables contain several parts:
   - Snapshot. Look here for quick, basic information, a summary of the other sections.
   - Planting. Find detailed information on how and when to plant.
   - Care Notes. Includes basics of growing and fertilizing.
   - Harvesting. Detailed information on how and when to harvest.
   - Additional information. Includes interesting facts and information on varieties.
   - Common Problems. Cultural, disease, and insect problems you may see in your garden.
   - References. If publication is from a state with soil and weather very different from Indiana,
       all information may not be applicable. Make sure you also check the websites listed below.

Less commonly grown vegetables are covered briefly. You will still find the basics – type and size of
plant, when and how to plant, when and how to harvest, and issues that might arise.

                                    Additional Information
There are many books that give details of growing vegetables, and there is lots of information on the
World Wide Web. Purdue University, Cornell University, University of Illinois, and University of
Kentucky all offer detailed information on their websites.
   Purdue Garden Publications: www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs.html#vegetables
   Cornell Vegetable Growing Guides: www.gardening.cornell.edu/homegardening/scene0391.html
   Illinois Watch Your Garden Grow: http://urbanext.illinois.edu/veggies/
          (equivalent information is given in the book Vegetable Gardening in the Midwest,
           C.E. Voigt and J.S. Vandemark, University of Illinois, 1995)
   Kentucky Home Vegetable Gardening: www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/id/id128/id128.pdf

For variety recommendations, see the Illinois website listed above. Similar information is given in the
book Guide to Indiana Vegetable Gardening, James A. Fizzell, Cool Spring Press, 2007. You can find
ratings of varieties by fellow gardeners on the Cornell Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners website:
http://vegvariety.cce.cornell.edu/.


Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                 3/2011                    Page 1 of 94
                                          Contributors
The information in this Encyclopedia was compiled from Cooperative Extension Service publications
by Mary Welch-Keesey, Consumer Horticulture Specialist with the Department of Horticulture and
Landscape Architecture, Purdue University. Additional references consulted include Smart
Gardener’s Guide to Growing Vegetables by Bob Gough, Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew,
and Rodale’s Successful Organic Gardening – Vegetables by Patricia Michalak and Cass Peterson.

The Encyclopedia was reviewed by Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Educators from
Purdue University. A special thanks to Amanda Bailey, Amy Thompson, Larry Caplan, Bill Horan,
Roy Ballard, Dave Addison, Curt Campbell, Jim Luzar, Steve Mayer, and Scott Monroe.


                                      Table of Contents
         Vegetable Type            Page                Vegetable Type            Page
Perennial vegetables                 5        Sweet Corn                          59
Beans and Peas                      12        Okra                                63
Root crops                          21        Leaf Crops                          64
Cole crops                          31        Onions and related plants           76
Tomatoes, Peppers, and related      44        Cucurbits-cucumber, squash,         84
plants                                        melons
Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes         53

                                   Individual Vegetables
                      Page                             Page                              Page
Arugula                69        Corn (sweet, pop)      59        Parsnips                29
Asparagus               6        Cucumber               88        Peas                    19
Beans, green snap      13        Eggplant               50        Peppers                 48
Beans, Lima            15        Endive/Escarole        70        Potato                  54
Beans, specialty       17        Garlic                 81        Potato, sweet           57
Beets                  22        Gourds                 93        Pumpkin                 90
Broccoli               32        Horseradish            11        Radishes                26
Broccoli raab          34        Jerusalem artichoke    10        Radishes, Chinese       28
Broccoli, Asian        39        Kale                   42        Rhubarb                  8
Brussels sprouts       35        Kohlrabi               43        Rutabaga                30
Cabbage                37        Leeks                  82        Shallots                83
Cabbage, Chinese       39        Lettuce                65        Spinach                 67
Carrot                 24        Muskmelons/            91        Spinach, Malabar,       68
                                   other melons                      New Zealand
Cauliflower            40        Mustard                72        Squash, summer          89
Celery and celeriac    73        Okra                   63        Squash, winter          89
Chard, Swiss           71        Onion                  77        Sweet potatoes          57
Chayote                94        Onion, Egyptian        83        Swiss chard             71
Chiles                 48        Onion, green           79        Tomatillo               52
Chives and             80        Onion, pearl and       79        Tomatoes                45
   garlic chives                 boiler
Cilantro/Coriander     75        Onion,                 83        Turnip                  30
                                 potato/multiplier
Collards               42        Parsley                74        Watermelon              92

Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                 3/2011                  Page 2 of 94
Basics of Vegetable Gardening
•   Most vegetables require full sun to grow well. A few crops (beets, carrots, kale, lettuce, onions,
    radish, spinach, Swiss chard, and turnips) will produce well in part sun.
•   Vegetables grow well when soil pH is 6.0-6.8, but some vegetables tolerate a higher pH.
•   Most vegetables grow best in soil that has been loosened and amended with organic matter.
•   Base yearly fertilization on the results of a soil test. The information in the soil test results will
    let you make intelligent decisions about fertilizing your garden, save money by avoiding fertilizer
    applications that are not needed, and help you reduce environmental pollution by avoiding excess
    fertilizer that runs off and pollutes streams and lakes. Use a fertilizer low in phosphorus unless
    the soil test indicates phosphorus levels are low and recommends addition of phosphorus.
•   In the absence of soil test results, base yearly fertilization on past experience.
    -­‐ If the vegetable garden has produced well in the past or was used to grow other plants that
        were fertilized regularly, apply 0.1-0.15 lb actual N per 100 square feet. Select a fertilizer
        low in phosphorus.
    -­‐ If the area has never been used as a garden and there is no reason to believe fertility is high,
        apply a fertilizer that contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, applying 0.1-0.15 lb
        actual N per 100 square feet. Some references recommend using fertilizers with an N-P-K
        ratio of about 1-4-4 for this initial fertilization. For example, if you are using a fertilizer with
        an analysis of 5-20-20, you would apply 2-3 lb of fertilizer per 100 square feet.
•   Fertilizer used in the vegetable garden can be organic or processed fertilizers.
    Please note: be very cautious about using manure in the vegetable garden. Manure can contain
    disease organisms (pathogens) that will make you sick. Avoid using fresh manure where you grow
    root or low-growing food plants such as lettuce. Incorporate all fresh manure into the soil at least
    four months before harvesting the vegetables. Thoroughly cooking foods will kill the pathogens
    that adhere to leaves and roots.
•   You can plant vegetables in long slender rows, in squares, or in any other shape that makes sense
    in your garden. Tall plants should be on the north side of the garden so they don’t shade their
    shorter neighbors. The correct spacing will give your vegetables room to grow. Spacing is given
    for long slender row planting and also for “wide row” spacing. Use “wide row” spacing if you are
    planting in a square or other unusual shape or in several closely spaced rows. Follow the
    recommendations for your variety if they differ from those given here.
•   Vegetables can be started by sowing seeds in the garden, by starting seeds indoors for later
    transplanting outdoors, or by planting purchased transplants. If you are planting seeds directly
    into the garden, sow more seeds than the number of plants you need, then thin based on the
    spacing recommended for the specific vegetable.
•   Planting times are recommended for each vegetable. Weather is different each year, so use
    common sense when planting, paying attention to the individual plant’s sensitivity to frost, need
    for warm or cool weather, and long or short growing season. If you are planting seeds directly
    into the garden, soil temperature should guide your planting. Use a soil thermometer or find soil
    temperature information on the website of the Indiana State Climate Office
    (http://iclimate.org/).
•   Planting times are given in relation to average last and first frost dates (50% chance that the last
    or first frost has already occurred). Purdue Master Gardeners can find the average dates for their
    area in Chapter 1 of the Purdue Master Gardener Manual. Average dates for all 50 states can be
    found on the U.S. Climate Normals site of the National Climatic Data Center
    http://cdo.ncdc.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/climatenormals/climatenormals.pl or find it by using your web
    browser to search for: CLIM20-01 freeze/frost data.


Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                     3/2011                     Page 3 of 94
•   Though a range of planting dates is given for each vegetable, most vegetables are planted only
    once during that period. The exceptions are the vegetables that have a very short harvest period
    for each planting. For example, each radish seed produces one radish and all seeds planted at
    one time are harvested over a short period (7-10 days). To ensure a long, continuous harvest,
    small plantings are made several times during the recommended planting time (rather than a
    large planting at only one time). The encyclopedia will tell you if you should make several small
    plantings of the vegetable.
•   Vegetables do best when growth is consistent through the season, not slowing and speeding up
    due to environmental conditions. You can’t control the weather, but you can help provide
    consistent conditions by irrigating when rainfall is lacking. Most vegetables need 1-1.5” of water
    a week.
•   Side-dress with nitrogen when needed as listed in the encyclopedia or if plant appearance
    suggests a nitrogen deficiency (plant stunted, older leaves yellowing, and newest leaves small).
    Side-dressing recommendations are traditionally given in pounds of ammonium nitrate per 100 ft
    row. Ammonium nitrate (33-0-0) is now difficult to find in garden centers. Because of this, side-
    dressing recommendations are given in pounds of actual nitrogen (N) per 100 square feet (sq ft).
    This allows you to determine the amount of fertilizer needed, no matter the analysis. Select a
    fertilizer that contains mostly nitrogen and little phosphorus or potassium.
•   Mulch will help keep soil moisture and temperature consistent and help control weeds.
•   Estimated days to harvest or maturity is given for each vegetable. This can vary greatly
    depending on variety. The weather can have a great impact as well. Use information specific to
    your variety if it is available.
•   Weeding is an important part of vegetable gardening. Most vegetables are shallow rooted.
    Cultivate carefully when weeding so you don’t injure the roots. Weeding on a regular schedule
    will let you remove the weeds when they are small and easy to pull.
•   Diseases and insect pests can reduce your yield and the quality of your vegetables. Check your
    plants on a regular basis. It is easier to control a problem if you catch it early. Brief information
    on pests is given for each vegetable. Simple cultural techniques, such as crop rotation, spacing to
    allow air circulation, and removing plant debris at the end of the season can go a long way
    toward preventing these pests next year. Related plants are listed for each vegetable to help
    with planning your crop rotation.
•   If you are a Purdue Master Gardener, more information on growing vegetables can be found in
    Chapter 13 of the Purdue Master Gardener Manual. Plant problems and pests are discussed in
    detail in Chapters 15-25. The Entomology Department at Purdue has an excellent publication on
    insects. See “Managing Insects in the Home Vegetable Garden”, Purdue Extension publication
    E-21-W, http://extension.entm.purdue.edu/publications/E-21.pdf.




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                   3/2011                    Page 4 of 94
Perennial Vegetables - Introduction
Only a few vegetables are grown as perennials. Some, like asparagus and rhubarb, are harvested
each spring but allowed to stay in the ground all year. Others, like Jerusalem artichoke and
horseradish, are completely harvested at the end of the season, but a root or stem piece is saved to
plant the next summer. This last group can be moved to different spots in the garden each year, but
asparagus and rhubarb stay in the same place for years. You need to dedicate garden space for
asparagus and rhubarb. Make sure you place them so they do not shade your other vegetables.


Links to specific vegetables
Asparagus
Rhubarb
Jerusalem artichoke
Horseradish




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                3/2011                   Page 5 of 94
Perennial Vegetables

Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)
Family: Liliaceae                       Related vegetables: Onions and related plants

Snapshot
• Herbaceous perennial. New shoots are harvested each year in spring, usually beginning in April,
   perhaps a bit earlier in southern Indiana. Plant in full sun.
• Tall, can reach a height of 6 ft.
• Dormant plants called crowns are planted in spring. There is a light harvest the following year
   and a full harvest, lasting 6-8 weeks, beginning the third or fourth year and thereafter. Estimated
   yield for a 10 ft row is 3-4 lb.

Planting
• Purchase crowns and plant in spring after the soil has warmed to about 50 °F, beginning in April
   and continuing through late May.
• Loosen soil and correct any nitrogen, phosphorous, or potassium deficiencies, as indicated by a
   soil test. Dig a trench no more than 5-6” deep and at least 12” across. Place a high-phosphorus
   fertilizer (about 0.5 lb actual P/50 ft row) in the bottom of the trench to encourage root growth.
• Place crowns on the bottom of the trench. Crowns should be at least 18” apart in all directions. A
   distance of 5 ft between rows is often recommended. Asparagus grows quickly and will fill in.
   Wide spacing improves airflow and reduces diseases.
• Fill the trench loosely with soil. Older references recommend adding soil gradually, 2 inches at a
   time, as the plant grows until the trench is filled but this is not necessary. You should see leaves
   in a week after planting. Irrigate as needed the year of planting.
• Do not harvest the first year. This allows the root system to become established.

Care notes
• Asparagus is usually drought tolerant once established.
• Asparagus tolerates a higher pH than many vegetables (up to 8.0) but does not grow well if pH is
   below 6.0.
• Fertilize with 0.1 lb actual N/100 sq ft each year when harvest is finished.
• Asparagus leaves may be called ferns or fronds. They should be left standing all summer and into
   fall as long as they are green. If there were no pest problems, the brown leaves can be left on all
   winter. They help moderate soil temperature and will collect snow, providing additional moisture
   for the plant. Cut off old leaves in early spring before new shoots appear.
• Control weeds by hand weeding, using pre-emergent herbicides, or careful use of non-selective
   herbicides like glyphosate after harvest but before new shoots have emerged.

Harvest
• The new shoots of the asparagus plants (the spears) are harvested as they emerge in spring. Do
   not harvest them the year of planting. Harvest lightly for no more than 3-4 weeks the second
   year and 4-6 weeks the third year. Thereafter, a full harvest of 6-8 weeks is possible.
• Make sure to harvest the first spears to emerge and then harvest regularly. This will encourage
   the production of more spears and increase the harvest. Stop harvesting if all spears become
   small (less than 3/8-inch). When harvest is finished, snap all spears off at ground level. Shoots
   that emerge after harvest will become the summer leaves of the plant.




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                 3/2011                    Page 6 of 94
•   Harvest when spears are 5-8” long and tips of the spears are tight. Snap a spear by bending the
    top toward the ground. Cut a spear by running a knife underground just below the soil surface
    where the spear is emerging. Either method is acceptable but cutting may damage spears that
    have not emerged aboveground.

Additional Information
Asparagus plants are dioecious (some plants are male, some female). Female plants produce flowers
and berries in late summer. Older varieties are 50:50 male:female. Newer varieties produce only
male plants and are often more vigorous and productive. They also do not produce seedlings that can
become a weed problem.

Common problems
• Perennial weeds. Good soil preparation before planting and yearly cultivation before spears
   emerge and after harvest can help control weeds.
• Feeding by asparagus beetles can damage spears, making them inedible, and, later in the season,
   feeding on leaves can reduce plant growth. Hand picking of adults and larvae can be effective if
   infestation is small. Clean up old foliage at the end of the season to reduce problems the next
   year. Some insecticides are available.
• Asparagus rust can stunt or kill young shoots and cause early defoliation. Some varieties are
   resistant. Cultural controls include cleaning up old foliage before new spears emerge in spring
   and wide spacing to improve airflow and help leaves dry more quickly.

References
Growing Asparagus in the Home Garden, Purdue University
   http://www.hort.purdue.edu/hort/ext/Pubs/HO/HO_096.PDF




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                 3/2011                   Page 7 of 94
Perennial Vegetables

Rhubarb (may be listed as Rheum rhaponticum, Rheum x hybridum,
          Rheum rhabarbarum, or Rheum x cultorum)
Family: Polygonaceae                                      Related vegetables: none

Snapshot
• Herbaceous perennial. Leaf stalks are harvested each year in spring. Rhubarb grows from large,
   fleshy rhizomes. Plant in full sun
• NOTE: only petioles of leaves are edible. Leaf blades contain oxalic acid and are poisonous. They
   should be safely discarded when the leaves are harvested.
• Medium to tall, can reach a height of 2-4 ft.
• Plant dormant plants (called crowns) any time in early spring when the ground can be worked,
   starting 3-6 weeks before the average last frost date and continuing into April.
• Begin harvest the third season after planting for about 4 weeks. Harvest for 8-10 weeks in later
   years. Leaves should reach 10-15” before they are picked. Estimated yield for a 10 ft row is 12 lb,
   about 4 lb per plant.

Planting
• Rhubarb needs good drainage to prevent crown rot. If your soil does not have good drainage,
   grow rhubarb in a raised bed.
• Rhubarb does not come true from seed and is slow to establish, so crowns (rhizome with buds)
   are planted. Plant as early as 3-6 weeks before the average last frost date, as late as April.
• Before planting apply fertilizer as recommended by a soil test. If available, cover area with 2-3
   inches of thoroughly composted manure and work into the soil.
• Crowns may be purchased or you may divide established plants. Crowns for transplanting should
   have at least 2 large buds. Plant the crowns 3 ft apart, minimum row spacing is 5 ft. Each plant
   needs 12-15 sq ft. Place crowns so buds are only 2” below the surface.

Care notes
• After harvest, side-dress with 0.1 lb actual N/100 sq ft. Water if rainfall is lacking. Keep the area
   around the plants free of weeds.
• Rhubarb will benefit from an application of a light layer of manure or compost as a winter mulch.
   Do not cover the crowns.
• Divide every 8-10 years in spring before new growth begins. If the plant has been fertilized
   regularly and growing well, the production of inferior, slender stems at the beginning of the
   season may indicate the plant needs to be divided. Leave a crown with 3-4 buds in place and
   divide and transplant the rest of the plant. Late fall divisions are possible but make sure to apply
   a winter mulch.

Harvest
• Do not harvest the year of planting or the following year. A short harvest of 4 weeks is possible
   the third year. Once the plant is well-established, harvest can last for 8-10 weeks. Leaves that
   emerge after the harvest will become the summer leaves of the plant and replenish the root and
   crown of the plant.
• Harvest when stalks are 10-15” long (usually beginning in late April or May). Grasp the stalk near
   its base and pull slightly to one side. It should separate easily. Do not cut the stalk because it is
   easy to damage developing buds. Do not remove more than 2/3 of the developing stalks on a
   single plant at any one time. Stop harvesting if all leaf stalks decrease in size and thickness.

Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                   3/2011                    Page 8 of 94
Additional information
• Depending on cultivar, rhubarb stalks may be green, red, or green speckled with pink. Color is
   usually stronger in cool weather, then fades as temperatures increase.

Common problems
• Slugs and crown rot can be a problem in moist areas.
• Leaf spot diseases may occur but usually do not reduce yield.
• Stalk borer and rhubarb curculio are two insect pests that may reside in grass and weeds.
   Controlling weeds around rhubarb (especially curly dock, which is in the same plant family) is a
   good way to control these pests.
• Infertile soil, extreme heat or cold, drought, or long days may cause rhubarb to flower (bolt),
   producing a tall flower stalk. Old plants tend to bolt more than young ones. Cut off the flower
   stalk as soon as it starts to form.

References
Rhubarb, Purdue University
   http://www.hort.purdue.edu/hort/ext/Pubs/HO/HO_097.pdf




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                3/2011                   Page 9 of 94
Perennial Vegetables

Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus)
Jerusalem artichoke, sometimes called sunchoke, is closely related to sunflowers and can grow to
similar heights, 6-8 ft. This North American native is an herbaceous perennial grown for its
underground tubers and harvested as an annual. Any parts left in the ground regrow the next spring.
It can quickly become a weed.
Purchase tubers at garden centers or even in the grocery store. Plant Jerusalem artichokes about 6
weeks before the average last frost date. Plant 2-3” deep, 2-3 ft apart in rows at least 3 ft apart.
Later planting will reduce yield.
Soils with good fertility are preferred. Control weeds when the plants are small but once established
this vegetable needs little care.
Harvest after one or two light frosts cause the plants begin to die back. Cut off the stalks, then dig
the tubers. Be as thorough as possible to keep this plant from becoming a weed problem. Save a few
tubers to start next year’s crop. Estimated yield for a 10 ft row is 7 lb.

References
Artichokes in and out of the garden, University of Illinois
     http://web.extension.illinois.edu/champaign/homeowners/070301.html




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                 3/2011                    Page 10 of 94
Perennial Vegetables

Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana)
Horseradish, a perennial member of the Brassicaceae or cabbage family, is grown for its root, which
is used as a seasoning.
Because the whole root is harvested, horseradish is replanted early each spring, starting 6 weeks
before the average last frost date and continuing through April, into early May in the northern part of
the state. Place root pieces, usually about 12” long, about a foot apart at a 45 degree angle in the
soil, deep enough so they will be covered by 2-3” of soil, in rows 30” apart. The plants will be 2 to 3
ft tall. Estimated yield for a 10 ft row is 4 lb.
Horseradish is easy to grow in fertile, loose soil. To get the largest roots possible, you can try
“suckering” or “lifting”. Suckering is done by removing all but one or two shoots as they develop.
Lifting is just lifting the plant by digging below the crown and lifting to break the side roots. Lift
twice, early in the season and again mid-season. Both suckering and lifting create a large root that
can be up to two lb in weight.
More than two-thirds of the nation’s crop is grown in two counties in southwest Illinois. There it is
grown as an annual crop, which is what you should try to do too. Horseradish left to grow as a
perennial can quickly become a weed problem. Instead, harvest all the roots each fall, in October or
early November before the ground freezes. Connoisseurs believe harvesting annually and replanting
also improves the flavor. Save pencil-size side roots for planting next year’s crop. Wrap in plastic and
store refrigerated.
Wasabi (Wasabia japonica), another horseradish, is almost impossible to grow in the home garden. It
is a perennial but hardy only to zone 8. Wasabi is an aquatic plant that grows in heavy shade and
shallow, clear, cold running water. Air temperatures should be cool also, below 70 °F. It typically
takes two years from planting to harvest.

References
Growing Horseradish in the Home Garden, University of Illinois
      http://web.extension.illinois.edu/champaign/homeowners/001106.html
Horseradish, University of Minnesota
      http://www.extension.umn.edu/yardandgarden/ygbriefs/h209horseradish.html	
  
Illinois Horseradish, University of Illinois
      http://www.aces.uiuc.edu/vista/html_pubs/HRSRDSH/horse.html
Wasabi is Quite Picky about its Growing Conditions, Real Wasabi
      http://www.realwasabi.com/Cultivation/index.asp
Growing Wasabi in the Pacific Northwest, Pacific Northwest Extension Publication
       http://cru.cahe.wsu.edu/CEPublications/pnw0605/pnw0605.pdf 	
  
	
  
	
  




                                            Horseradish root produces new
                                            shoots soon after planting.

                                            Photo by Joan Crow, Purdue
                                            Agriculture Communications
                             	
  	
  	
  

Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                            3/2011          Page 11 of 94
Beans and Peas - Introduction
Every cuisine has recipes that use beans. Together with peas, these vegetables are staples in a
vegetarian diet because they are high in protein. Beans and peas can be used as a meat substitute
but are delicious in their own right.

Beans and peas, also called legumes, have root nodules. These nodules contain nitrogen-fixing
bacteria (Rhizobium). Most soils contain the needed bacteria.


Links to specific vegetables
Beans, green snap and yellow wax
Beans, Lima
Beans, specialty (includes dry beans, shelly beans, black-eyed peas, garbanzo beans, yardlong beans,
     edible soybeans)
Peas (include sugar snap and snow peas)




                                          Pole-type beans are vining plants and need a
                                          support to climb. Teepee and other shapes are
                                          popular with children.




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                 3/2011                  Page 12 of 94
Beans and Peas

Beans, green snap and yellow wax (Phaseolus vulgaris)
Family: Fabaceae                           Related vegetables: all other beans, peas

Snapshot
• Warm-season annual grown for its immature fruit.
• Green snap beans were previously called string beans because of stringy fibers that ran along the
   front and back of the pod. Modern cultivars no longer have strings. Yellow wax beans are a color
   variant of green snap beans with a slightly waxier pod. Purple beans (which turn green when
   cooked) and flat-pod beans (Romano beans) are also available.
• Plant seeds directly in garden 1-2 weeks after average last frost date, soil at least 60 °F.
• Bush type: short plants (18”); harvest period short, so plant repeatedly until mid-summer for
   continual harvest (min. 50 days needed before first frost); space 2-3”, rows a minimum of 18”
   apart, spacing within a wide row is 4”x4”; first harvest 50-60 days after seeds planted. Estimated
   yield per 10 ft row is 6 lb.
• Pole type: tall plants, to height of support (6 ft+); longer harvest than bush types so only 1 or 2
   plantings needed; space 4-6”, rows a minimum of 24” apart, both long linear and tepee-like
   supports can be used; first harvest 60-70 days after seeds planted. Estimated yield per 10 ft row
   is 3-4 lb.

Planting
• Plant seeds directly in the soil after it has warmed to 60 °F usually 1-2 weeks after average last
   frost date. If soil is too cold, germination is slow and seed is likely to rot. Seeds can be purchased
   pre-treated with fungicide to minimize this problem.
• Plant 1” deep in heavy soils, 1.5” deep in sandy soils. Mulching lightly with compost or sand will
   help seedlings emerge in heavier soils. If using vertical supports, set when seeds are planted.
• Most soils contain the necessary nitrogen-fixing Rhizobium bacteria to support bean growth. If
   you are concerned that your soil does not, you can purchase a bacterial inoculum. Coat the seeds
   with the inoculum before planting. The bacteria will become established in the soil, ready to
   infect the roots of the beans and peas in future years. It is not necessary to use inoculum after
   the first year.

Care Notes
• Excess soil nitrogen will result in leaf production at the expense of bean production. Limit
   nitrogen application at the beginning of the season (1 teaspoon of 5-10-5 per row foot). Side-
   dress only after heavy pod production or on sandy soils after heavy rains. Use 0.1 lb N/100 sq ft.
• Beans are shallow-rooted. Cultivate with care.
• Do not cultivate or pick beans when the leaves or beans are wet. Bean bacterial blight is a serious
   disease that is easily spread when the plants are wet.
• Consistent soil moisture is important from flower bud formation to fruit set. Irrigate if rainfall is
   lacking so plants receive about 1” of water a week.

Harvesting
• Immature pods with small seeds are eaten. Harvest while the pods are firm and crisp but before
   the seeds within have developed significantly, before they begin to bulge (50-60 days after
   planting). Pods break easily with a snap when ready. If some pods develop past this stage, be



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    sure to pick them even if they are discarded. If these pods are allowed to develop, flowering will
    decrease and future harvest will be reduced.
•   Do not pick when pods or leaves are wet. To avoid breaking the stem, hold on to it as you pull
    the pods off.
•   Bush types usually give one large harvest then a second smaller harvest about two weeks later.
    Remove plants from garden after second harvest. Pole beans provide many small harvests through
    most of the summer.

Common problems
• Bean mosaic diseases – plant resistant varieties, there is no treatment once the plants are
   infected.
• Bacterial blight – use disease-free western-grown seed, do not work with plants when wet
• Bean flea beetles, Mexican bean beetles, and bean leaf beetles feed on leaves and can cause
   severe damage when plants are small. Bean leaf beetles will also feed on the pods, causing
   distortion and a potential entry point for fungal diseases. Control may be warranted.

References
Growing Beans in the Home Vegetable Garden, Purdue University
   http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/HO-175.pdf
Growing Snap Beans, University of Connecticut
   http://www.hort.uconn.edu/ipm/homegrnd/htms/47beans.htm
Growing Garden Beans, Pennsylvania State University
   http://horticulture.psu.edu/files/hort/extension/garden_beans.pdf




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                 3/2011                   Page 14 of 94
Beans and Peas

Beans, Lima (Phaseolus lunatus)
Family: Fabaceae                         Related vegetables: all other beans, peas

Snapshot
• Warm-season vegetable. Baby limas are annuals. Large limas are tender perennials grown as an
   annual. Unlike snap beans, the mature, still tender lima bean, not the pod, is eaten.
• Available as small baby limas, sometimes called butter beans, or as larger lima beans (Fordhook
   is a common variety).
• Plant seeds directly in the garden 2-3 weeks after average last frost date or when the soil has
   warmed to 65 °F. Lima beans are more cold sensitive than snap beans.
• Baby limas: short plants (18”); harvest period short, so plant repeatedly until mid-summer for
   continual harvest (min. 65 days needed before first frost); space 3-4”, rows a minimum of 24”
   apart, spacing within a wide row is 4”x4”; first harvest 65-80 days after seeds planted. Estimated
   yield per 10 ft row is 1-2.5 lb shelled.
• Bush type large limas: short plants (18”); harvest period short, so plant repeatedly until mid-
   summer for continual harvest (min. 65 days needed before first frost); space 6”, rows a minimum
   of 24” apart, spacing within a wide row is 6”x6”; first harvest 65-80 days after seeds planted.
   Estimated yield per 10 ft row is 2-3 lb shelled.
• Pole type large limas: tall plants, to height of support (6 ft+); longer harvest than bush types;
   space 10-12”, rows a minimum of 36” apart, both long linear and tepee-like supports can be
   used; first harvest 75-85 days after seeds planted. Estimated yield per 10 ft row is 5 lb shelled.

Planting
• Plant seeds directly into the soil after it has warmed to 65 °F for several days, usually 2-3 weeks
   after average last frost date. If soil is too cold, germination is slow and seed is likely to rot. Seeds
   can be purchased pre-treated with fungicide to minimize this problem.
• Plant 0.5” deep in heavy soils, 1” deep in sandy soils. Mulching lightly with compost or sand will
   help seedlings emerge in heavier soils. Set vertical supports when seeds are planted. Lima beans
   are more sensitive to cold and wet soils than snap beans.
• Most soils contain the necessary nitrogen-fixing Rhizobium bacteria to support bean growth. If
   you are concerned that your soil does not, you can purchase a bacterial inoculum. Coat the seeds
   with the inoculum before planting. The bacteria will become established in the soil, ready to
   infect the roots of the beans and peas in future years. It is not necessary to use inoculum after
   the first year.

Care Notes
• Excess soil nitrogen will result in leaf production at the expense of bean production. Limit
   nitrogen application at the beginning of the season. (1 teaspoon of 5-10-5 per row foot). Side-
   dress only after heavy production of pods or on sandy soils after heavy rains. Use 0.1 lb N/100 sq
   ft.
• Beans are shallow-rooted. Cultivate with care.
• Do not cultivate or pick beans when the leaves or beans are wet. Bean bacterial blight is a serious
   disease that is easily spread when the plants are wet.
• A cold, wet spell can cause lima bean flowers to drop, as can excessively hot and dry periods,
   reducing yield. Baby limas are less susceptible to this problem.



Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                    3/2011                    Page 15 of 94
Harvesting
• Harvest the pods, shell them, and eat the tender beans inside (about 65-75 days after planting).
   Pods should be plump and firm. Taste test a few beans to make sure they are at the right stage of
   development. Beans that are past peak are mealy and tough-skinned. If some pods develop past
   this stage, be sure to pick them even if they are discarded. If allowed to develop, flowering will
   decrease and future harvest will be reduced.
• Do not pick when pods or leaves are wet. To avoid breaking the stem, hold on to it as you pull
   the pods off.
• Bush types are usually harvested in two or three pickings. Pole beans provide many small
   harvests, often continuing until frost. Make sure to remove beans as they reach peak.

Common problems
See green snap beans

References
Growing Beans in the Home Vegetable Garden, Purdue University
   http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/HO-175.pdf
Growing Garden Beans, Pennsylvania State University
   http://horticulture.psu.edu/files/hort/extension/garden_beans.pdf




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                3/2011                   Page 16 of 94
Beans and Peas

Beans, specialty
Horticultural Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris)
Southern Cowpeas (Vigna unguiculata)
Yardlong or Asparagus Beans (Vigna unguiculata ssp. sesquipedalis)
Edible Soybeans or Edamame (Glycine max)
Adzuki (Vigna angularis)
Fava Beans (Vicia faba)
Garbanzo Beans or Chickpeas (Cicer arietinum)
Dry beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) (kidney, navy, black, small red, anasazi, pinto, great northern,
  Jacob’s cattle and many other heirloom varieties)

Snapshot
• Culture is similar to snap or lima beans. All take at least 65 days to mature, some 90 days or
   more.
• The pod and very immature seeds of yardlong (asparagus) beans are eaten. For all others, the
   beans are shelled before eating.
• Horticultural beans: may be called “shelly” or “shellout” beans; both bush and pole varieties
   available; heirloom varieties available; plant as described for snap beans; harvest when pods
   start changing from green to yellow.
• Southern cowpeas: not a true bean or pea even though it is usually called a pea; goes by many
   names – southern pea, cowpea, crowder pea, black-eyed pea; plant as described for lima beans;
   bush types mature more quickly and are more suited for Midwestern gardens; harvest and shell
   when pods begin to yellow for fresh peas or as dry peas when pods fully mature and dry.
   Estimated yield per 10 ft row is 4 lb.
• Yardlong or Asparagus Beans: popular in oriental cooking, pods can grow to 3 ft; only vining types
   available; plant as described for lima beans; harvest short pods (10-12”) beginning 65-80 days
   after planting if you want to eat the immature pod; if pods are more mature, shell beans before
   eating; plants will continue to produce for several weeks if harvested regularly.
• Edible soybeans: use soybean varieties selected for home gardens which mature more quickly and
   have better flavor than field varieties; plant as described for bush lima beans, until July 15;
   harvest is 80-90 days after planting; harvest when seeds fully enlarged but not yet hardened,
   pods will be plump, green, rough, and hairy; all pods mature at about the same time, so pull
   entire plant and harvest in a comfortable seat in the shade; pods are difficult to open, cook for a
   few minutes to soften pods and make shelling easier.
• Adzuki: also called Chinese red beans, adzukis are the basis for red bean paste and have a slightly
   sweet flavor; plant as you do snap beans, both bush and pole varieties are available; adzuki
   require a long growing season, 120 days; harvest as green beans when pods just begin to plump
   and are still tender or allow to mature and harvest as dry beans; pods will split open when dried
   thoroughly.
• Fava beans: also called broad beans, horse beans, English beans, European beans, and Windsor
   beans; some people of Mediterranean origin have a strong allergic reaction to fava beans. If you
   have not eaten them before, sample a small quantity first; fava beans require long season of cool
   weather so plant early, at the same time as peas, about 5 weeks before average last frost date;
   sow seed 1-2” deep, 3-6” apart, with rows a minimum of 24” apart. Harvest when the pods are
   thick and well-filled but still green, at least 85 days after planting.



Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                 3/2011                   Page 17 of 94
•   Garbanzo beans: also known as chestnut bean, Egyptian bean, and grams; not a true bean or pea,
    with fine-textured foliage; usually 1 or 2 seeds per pod; require long season of warm weather –
    100 days from planting to harvest; plant as described for bush lima beans; harvest as shell beans
    or allow to mature for dried beans.
•   Dry beans: common varieties are inexpensive when purchased at groceries but unusual varieties
    may not be readily available and thus may be worth the effort to grow yourself; beans self-
    pollinate and come true from seed, so you can save a few for planting next year; dry beans
    require a long growing season and a dry fall so they may be problematic in Indiana; require large
    amount of garden space to grow suitable quantities for storage; plant as described for snap
    beans, both bush and pole types are available; harvest when pods and beans completely dry,
    when leaves have turned yellow and begin to fall; pull vines and allow plants to dry, pods should
    start to split and dried beans can be easily removed. Yield of dry beans can be 1 lb plus per 15 ft
    row.

See green snap beans and lima beans for information on care, harvesting and pests.

References
Growing Beans in the Home Vegetable Garden, Purdue University
   http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/HO-175.pdf
Growing Garden Beans, Pennsylvania State University
   http://horticulture.psu.edu/files/hort/extension/garden_beans.pdf




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                  3/2011                   Page 18 of 94
Beans and Peas

Peas (Pisum sativum)
Family: Fabaceae         Related vegetables: all beans

Snapshot
• Cool-season annual. Usually the immature fruit (pods) and seeds are eaten.
• Three types of peas are commonly grown:
   -­‐  Garden peas (English peas) are harvested and shelled with the tender peas inside eaten
       fresh. They may also be allowed to mature and dry and then used as split peas.
   -­‐ Snap peas or sugar snap peas are the edible-pod version of garden peas. They have low fiber
       pods that can be “snapped” and eaten along with the immature peas inside.
   -­‐ Snow peas (sometimes also called sugar peas) are edible pod peas that are flat instead of
       round and are popular in Chinese cuisine.
• Both short-medium varieties (18-30”) and tall varieties (to 6 ft) that need to be supported on a
   trellis are available. Some gardeners place twigs upright among the pea plants, even the bush
   type, to provide support. These twigs are called “pea sticks” or “pea brush”.
• Plant the seeds directly into the garden after soil has warmed to 45 °F, 4-6 weeks before average
   last frost date, 1-1.5” deep, 1-2” apart in rows 12” apart. Spacing within a wide row is 2-4”.
   Harvest period is short so plant repeatedly until about a week before the average first frost date
   to ensure a continual harvest. Vining types have a longer harvest period. Estimated yield per 10 ft
   row is 3 lb.
• For fall planting, assume harvest is on average first frost date and count back using days to
   harvest information for your variety to determine the last planting date (typically 10-12 weeks
   before the average first frost date for late-season varieties). Peas will not mature after a frost.
   Planting for a fall harvest can start as early as June in northern Indiana and in August for the
   warmest parts of the state.
• Harvest varies from 54 days for early varieties to 72 days and more for mid-late season varieties.
   Harvest for each planting is short. Sample a few pods as harvest nears to judge their maturity.
   Harvest by grasping stem with one hand, pod with another and snap off with thumb. Use
   immediately for best flavor.

Planting
• Peas are planted very early, as soon as the soil can be worked. Wait until soil warms to at least
   45 °F. It takes seeds about 2 weeks to germinate at 50 °F, less as the soil warms. Later plantings
   can catch up with early ones.
• In Indiana, planting begins in mid-February in southern Indiana, April 1 in the north, and
   continues for about a month, perhaps a bit longer in the cooler north.
• Plant tall varieties near supports. All types can be supported with twigs placed upright between
   the plants.
• Peas are available in early, mid, and late season varieties. Plan on several plantings of one type
   to ensure a long harvest or plant several varieties with different maturities at the same time.
• Fall plantings are possible. Germination is rapid in warm soil, but growth in the heat of late
   summer and the need for watering may make this a less desirable option. Plantings in late
   summer may take longer to mature than listed in the seed packet information.
• Most soils contain the necessary nitrogen-fixing Rhizobium bacteria to support bean growth. If
   you are concerned that your soil does not, you can purchase a bacterial inoculum. Coat the seeds
   with the inoculum before planting. The bacteria will become established in the soil, ready to


Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                 3/2011                   Page 19 of 94
   infect the roots of the beans and peas in future years. It is not necessary to use inoculum after
   the first year.

Care notes
• Peas grow best at 55-75 °F. The plants can withstand some frost but the flowers and pods cannot.
• Peas prefer soil high in organic matter with good drainage. Poor drainage can make the plants
   more susceptible to fusarium wilt and root rot.
• Make sure to water if rainfall is lacking during flowering and seed enlargement.
• Side-dressing usually not needed. Side-dress with 0.1 lb actual N/100 sq ft only after heavy bloom
   and pod set.
• Edible pod varieties are fussy about environment, need more attention to watering and are more
   susceptible to mildew.

Harvest
• Harvest garden peas when pods are swollen. Sample every day or two to catch them at the right
   stage. Pods lowest on the plant mature first. Harvest lasts about a week, usually with three
   pickings. Remove plant from garden when harvest is finished.
• For dried split peas, allow garden peas to remain on the vine until the pods are withered and
   brown. Harvest, shell, and lay them out to dry for three weeks.
• Harvest snap peas when pods start to fatten but before seeds grow large. Pods should snap when
   broken. If you miss the timing, harvest and shell before use, eating only the peas.
• Harvest snow peas before the individual peas have grown to the size of BBs and pods are still
   quite flat, usually 5 to 7 days after flowering.
• Make sure to remove any pods accidentally missed in earlier pickings to keep the plants blooming
   and producing. Overgrow snap and snow peas should be shelled before eating.
• All garden peas and bush type snap and snow peas have a short harvest period. Vining types of
   both snap and snow peas continue to grow taller and produce peas as long as the plant stays in
   good health and the weather stays cool.
• Use peas within 24 hours of picking. They loose their sweetness quickly after picking.

Additional Information
‘Wando’ withstands hot weather better than other cultivars.

Common Problems
• Fusarium wilt and powdery mildew can be problems on peas. Crop rotation will help. Some
   varieties are resistant to at least one of these diseases.
• Damping off of seedlings and root rot can also be a problem, especially if soil stays wet. Crop
   rotation will also help with this problem.
• Pea aphids can sometimes be a problem. A strong stream of water may remove them.




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                 3/2011                    Page 20 of 94
Root Crops - Introduction
Root crops are grown for their enlarged roots. All prefer cool weather and most can be planted as
both a spring and fall crop. Because the roots need to grow unimpeded, prepare the ground well.
Loosen it and remove stones and clods. Roots that encounter a stone will grow around it, creating an
unexpected shape. Each plant yields only one root. The leaves of beets and turnips are used as
greens.


Links to specific vegetables
Beets
Carrots
Radishes
Chinese radishes (daikon and others)
Parsnips
Turnips
Rutabagas




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                3/2011                   Page 21 of 94
Root Crops

Beets (Beta vulgaris)
Family: Chenopodiaceae                      Related vegetables: Swiss chard and spinach

Snapshot
• Frost-tolerant, cool-season biennial. The swollen root and sometimes the leaves are harvested
   the first year of growth.
• Leaves (often called tops) are eaten as greens. Enlarged roots, which come in several shapes and
   may be red, yellow, or white, are eaten as a vegetable.
• Plants are short (12”-18”).
• Plant seeds directly into garden starting 2-3 weeks before average last frost date. Sow thickly,
   then thin to 2-3”, rows a minimum of 12” apart, spacing within a wide row is 3”x3”. Harvest
   period is short, so plant repeatedly for continual harvest until mid-late summer, about 2 months
   before the average first frost date. Beets are somewhat shade tolerant.
• Harvest at about 50 days for tops, 60 days for 1.5” roots. Beets will tolerate a light frost but do
   not allow to freeze in the ground. Harvest or protect if temperatures threaten to dip into the
   upper 20s. Estimated yield per 10 ft row is 10 lb.

Planting
• As with all root crops, a well-prepared soil without stones will let the roots develop their natural
   size and shape.
• Purchased beet seed is usually fruit that contains several seeds. Some seed companies are now
   selling single, separated seed.
• Plant about 1” apart and about 1/2” deep. Cover seed with a thin layer of fine mulch or compost
   rather than garden soil to prevent soil crusting which can hinder seedling emergence.
• Beet seeds can be planted starting 2-3 weeks before average last frost date. They germinate best
   at 65-75 °F but will germinate at temperatures as low as 40 °F. Don’t plant too early or an
   extended cold spell may induce plants to bolt. It’s best to let soil warm to 50 °F.
• Continue planting every 2-4 weeks to ensure continual harvest through the growing season.
   However, high temperatures can cause the roots to be woody, with alternating bands of light and
   dark red and low sugar content. Because of this, some gardeners plant spring and fall crops and
   avoid planting when roots will mature in the heat of summer. Plantings after August 1 may be
   injured by frost before they mature. Note that seedlings establish more easily under cool, moist
   conditions.
• After emergence, thin seedlings to 3-4”. If you like, let plants get to 3” before thinning, then eat
   the greens and small swollen root. If not thinned, swollen roots may not develop properly.

Care notes
• To ensure the continuous growth needed for high-quality beets, provide irrigation if rainfall is
   lacking. An irregular water supply may result in tough, cracked roots. High temperatures can also
   cause the roots to be woody, with alternating bands of light and dark red and low sugar content.
   Alternating bands of color do not always indicate poor quality. The heirloom variety ‘Chioggia’ is
   grown to produce roots with alternating bands of color.
• Beets grown in acidic soils will not do well. Leaves will look ragged. Soil pH should be pH 6-7.5.
• Beets usually do not need side-dressing, especially if grown for roots rather than greens. Do side-
   dress (4-6 weeks after planting) if crop shows sign of nitrogen deficiency.



Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                 3/2011                   Page 22 of 94
•   Use shallow cultivation to control weeds so roots are not damaged. Beets do not compete well
    with weeds.
•   Beets are somewhat shade tolerant.

Harvesting
• Harvest greens when plants are between 4” and 6” tall (about 50 days after planting).
• Harvest beet roots by pulling up the whole plant while they are still small. 1.5” beets are tender
   (60-70 days for most varieties). Beets larger than 3” are often fibrous and low quality. Check size
   often, as roots enlarge quickly once they reach 1.5”.
• Leave 1” of foliage on roots when harvesting to prevent bleeding of color during cooking.

Common Problems
• Seedlings exposed to low temperature (40-50 °F) for more than 2 weeks may begin to flower
   (bolt). If this occurs, harvest the greens and replant.
• Seeds planted in cold soil may rot or seedlings may damp off. Seeds pre-treated with fungicide
   can be purchased, or simply wait to plant until soil has warmed.
• Cercospora leaf spot is the most common disease that occurs on beets. Circular spots with
   reddish brown or purplish margins are the first signs. Pre-treated seeds, crop rotation, spacing
   and watering practices to help leaves dry quickly, and removal of all plant debris at the end of
   the season can help control this disease.
• Spinach leafminer is a fly that lays eggs on beet leaves. The larvae tunnel into the leaves. The
   presence of this insect does not decrease yield of beet roots. It is important pest only if greens
   are harvested. Crop rotation can help reduce the problem.
• Flea beetles, which chew holes in the leaves, can also be a problem on seedlings. Feeding on
   plants with large leaves usually does not decrease yield of roots. They are more common in
   weedy gardens or gardens near weedy areas.
• Cutworms can be a problem on small plants, especially in gardens near weedy areas.
• Aphids may feed on leaves. Remove them with a strong stream of water.

References
Growing Beets in the Home Garden, Ohio State University
   http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1604.html
Home Garden Beet Production, North Carolina State University
    http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-8004.html
Growing Carrots, Beets, Radishes, and Other Roots Crops in Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin
   http://learningstore.uwex.edu/Assets/pdfs/A3686.pdf




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                  3/2011                   Page 23 of 94
Root Crops

Carrots (Daucus carota ssp. sativus.)
Family: Apiaceae                  Related vegetables: Celery, fennel, parsley, parsnip

Snapshot
• Cool season biennial. The enlarged root is harvested the first season of growth.
• Carrot roots can be white, yellow, orange, red, purple, or purplish black. Shape varies from long
   and slender to short and plump. Select short varieties if your soil is heavy or shallow. Shape and
   color depend on temperature, age, and growing conditions as well as the characteristics of the
   variety you are growing. Droughty conditions produce longer roots. High temperatures result in
   shorter roots.
• Short plant, about 12” high.
• Plant seeds directly into the garden starting 2 weeks before average last frost date. Soil should
   be at least 45 °F. Spacing varies with variety, see “Planting” below. Since each plant produces
   only one carrot, replant every 2-3 weeks. Time the last planting to mature on the average first
   frost date (last planting will be 2-3 months before the average first frost date). Though carrots
   prefer cool weather they can be planted through most of the summer in northern Indiana. In
   southern Indiana, do not plant if the crop will mature in the heat of the summer. Temperatures
   over 75 °F as the roots mature result in poor quality carrots. Planting usually resumes in July.
   Carrots are somewhat shade tolerant.
• For full-size carrots, harvest when tops of the carrots are 0.75-1.5” in diameter. Carrots are
   ready to harvest in about 60-85 days (less for finger carrots) and each planting can be harvested
   for about 4 weeks. Cut off all but 1” of the tops before storing. In fall, harvest or protect as
   temperatures dip into the upper 20s. Mulched carrots can be harvested until the ground freezes.
   Estimated yield per 10 ft row is 10 lb.

Planting
• Make sure to till the soil deeply to prepare for planting. Remove stones and break up clods that
   could result in misshaped roots. Carrot varieties with long slender roots are usually not
   recommended for home gardens unless the soil is sandy.
• In early spring plant carrot seeds 1/4-1/2” deep. Later plantings can be deeper, 1/2-3/4”. Plant
   2-3 seeds per inch in rows at least 12” apart.
• Carrot seeds take 2 weeks to germinate. Soil should be at least 45 °F before planting. Even at
   optimum temperature (about 80 °F) carrot seed can take more than a week to germinate.
• Carrot seedlings are weak and may have trouble pushing through crusted soils. After covering
   seeds with soil, add a thin layer of fine mulch or compost to help prevent crusting. You can also
   mix radish and carrot seeds together. The radish seeds germinate quickly and will mark the
   location of the carrots. By pushing through the soil they prevent crusting. The radishes will be
   ready to harvest before the carrots have put on much growth. Keep the area watered so the
   seeds do not dry out before germination.
• Thin seedlings when they are about an inch high. Different spacing is used for different varieties
   and uses. Leave 3 per inch if harvesting as finger carrots. Leave 1-2 per inch if harvesting young.
   Space carrots that will be allowed to grow to full size 1-2” apart. Spacing within a wide row is
   3”x3”.




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                 3/2011                     Page 24 of 94
Care Notes
• Carrots need consistent moisture, 1-1.5” of water a week. Make sure to water if rainfall is
   lacking. Carrots can become pungent and strong in flavor in dry soil and hot weather. Carrots are
   somewhat shade tolerant, so plant in part shade during heat of the summer.
• Side-dressing is usually not needed. Some references recommend using a fertilizer with a 1-2-2
   ratio (0.15 lb actual nitrogen per 100 sq ft) when leaves are 3-4” high and again when they reach
   6-8”.
• Tops of the roots exposed to sun will turn green and have an “off” flavor. To prevent this, mound
   soil up slightly to cover any exposed roots. If the top of the root is green when harvested, simply
   cut off this portion of the root before eating or cooking.

Harvesting
• Harvest by pulling the entire plant from the ground.
• Finger carrots are harvested when the top of the root is 0.5”, about 50 days after planting.
• Full size carrots are first harvested when the top of the root is 0.75” in diameter, about 60 days
   after planting. Harvest of each planting can continue for 3-4 weeks, with the last carrots being
   larger, perhaps 1.5” in diameter.
• A straw mulch will let you harvest carrots directly from the garden until the ground freezes.

Additional information
• Queen Anne’s lace, a common Indiana wildflower, is the same species as edible carrot but it does
   not have an edible root.

Common problems
• Carrots will flower (bolt) if the root is at least ¼” in diameter and temperature falls below 50 °F
   for several weeks.
• Leafhoppers can spread disease such as aster yellows. Cutworms chew off seedlings at ground
   level. Aphids can also be a problem. Crop rotation, good fall clean-up and keeping the area
   around the garden free of weeds can help. A strong stream of water may wash off aphids.
   Insecticides may be warranted to control leafhoppers.
• The disease aster yellows creates hairy roots and yellow tops. Control leafhoppers to prevent
   infection. There is no treatment for this disease. Remove infected plants from the garden to help
   keep the disease from spreading.
• One bacterial and two fungal diseases can cause leaf spots and degradation (generally called leaf
   blights). The two fungal diseases are more of a problem in humid or wet weather when the leaves
   do not dry. Spacing for good air circulation as well as practicing good sanitation and crop rotation
   will help control these diseases. Carrots grown with adequate soil nutrition may be more resistant
   to the diseases. Some cultivars are available that show tolerance to these diseases.

References
Growing Carrots in the Home Garden, Ohio State University
   http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1606.html
Growing Carrots and Other Root Vegetables in the Garden, University of Minnesota
   http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/DG0435.html




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                 3/2011                    Page 25 of 94
Root Crops

Radishes (Raphanus sativus)
Family: Brassicaceae           Related vegetables: arugula, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage
                                   (all types), cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, rutabaga,
                                    turnip, horseradish, collards, watercress

Snapshot
• Cool-season annual harvested for its swollen root before the plant flowers. Some winter varieties
   are considered biennials.
• There are many varieties. Spring radishes reach harvesting size 3-4 weeks after seed is planted,
   though some cultivars (sometimes called summer radishes) take a bit longer. Winter radishes,
   planted in late summer, take about 8 weeks to mature. They are often larger and more pungent
   than spring radishes. Oriental radishes (daikon and others) are discussed in a separate listing
• Small plant, ranging from 6-16” high.
• Plant spring and summer radish seeds directly into the garden starting 6 weeks before the
   average last frost date. Seeds germinate in less than a week if soil is at least 50 °F. Replant every
   2 or 3 weeks continuing on until about 4 weeks after average last frost date or until temperatures
   average in the mid-60s. These varieties can also be planted in early fall as the weather cools.
   Time last planting so crop matures on average first frost date. Radishes are somewhat shade
   tolerant.
• Plant winter radish varieties starting in July in northern IN, in August in southern IN. Several
   plantings can be made. Time the last planting so crop matures on average first frost date.
   Remember these varieties take 2 months or so to mature.
• The first harvest of spring radishes can be made 3 weeks after planting. Small roots are sweet
   and mild. In general, harvest when roots reach 1-1.5” in diameter. The harvest window is short –
   radishes left too long become spongy (pithy) and hot. Many winter radish varieties are hot.
   Harvest when they reach the size for your variety. Winter radishes remain edible much longer
   than spring radishes. Estimated yield per 10 ft row is 10 bunches.

Planting
• Plant radish seeds 1/4-1/2” deep. Thin to 1-3” for spring radishes, to about 6” for winter radishes
   (seedlings can be eaten). Make sure to thin. Crowded radishes do not produce good roots.
• If planting in rows, minimum row spacing is 12”, perhaps a bit wider for winter radishes. Spacing
   within a wide row is about 3”x3” for spring radishes.
• Because they mature so quickly, spring radishes are often planted with carrots and parsnips,
   between slowly growing cole crops, or between small tomato and pepper plants.

Care Notes
• Steady growth is important for good development and flavor. Water if rainfall is lacking. If
   growth slows, especially in hot weather, roots can become hot in flavor. Plant in part shade as
   weather warms.
• Spring radishes do not need side-dressing and excess nitrogen can favor leaves over root
   development. Longer growing varieties (summer and winter radishes) may do better with very
   light side-dressing.




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                  3/2011                    Page 26 of 94
Harvest
• Spring radishes become hot and pithy quickly if you miss the optimal harvesting window. Harvest
   when roots are no more than 1.5” (smaller is better). White radishes should be no more than
   3/4” in diameter. Harvest by pulling the plant out of the ground.
• Winter radishes have a longer harvest window and cold weather improves flavor.
• Harvest or protect all late-planted radishes if temperatures threaten to dip into the upper 20s.
   Mulched radishes should be harvested before the ground freezes.
• Remove the green tops and long slender root before storing radishes.

Common problems
• Radishes may produce leaves and no root if over-fertilized (as mentioned above) or if it is too hot
   when the crop matures, over 80 °F.
• Spring radish roots may crack and split if allowed to grow too large before harvesting.
• Cabbage root maggots can be a problem. Use floating row covers to keep the adult insects from
   laying eggs on your crop.
• Diseases are not often a problem. Practice crop rotation. Do not plant the same area with a cole
   crop two years running.

References
Growing Carrots, Beets, Radishes, and Other Roots Crops in Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin
   http://learningstore.uwex.edu/Assets/pdfs/A3686.pdf




                                                            Radish seedlings germinate quickly.
                                                            Plant radish seeds along with slower-
                                                            germinating seeds, such as those of
                                                            carrot, to keep the soil from crusting
                                                            and to mark the row. The radishes will
                                                            be ready to harvest before the other
                                                            crops put on much growth.




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                3/2011                   Page 27 of 94
Root Crops

Chinese radishes (Raphanus sativus, sometimes listed as var. longipinnatus)
If you’ve only grown spring radishes, the Chinese (oriental) radishes will surprise you. Roots of 10-20
pounds aren’t unusual and some can weigh in at 100 pounds! Leaves spread 2 ft. Chinese radishes,
often known as daikon, can be many shapes – long and slender, short and rounded, even bell-shaped.
The roots are often white but white with green tops and red are also available.
Oriental radishes can be eaten raw but they are often cooked. The roots are less pungent and have
better quality if grown in cool weather. Some varieties are grown specifically for greens rather than
roots. One, “rat-tailed radish,” is grown for its edible seedpods. All are common in cuisines
throughout Asia.
Grow Chinese radishes as you would the more common spring and winter radishes. Those with short
harvest times (30 days) can be planted in spring. Most need a longer growing period so plant in late
summer to mature in cool weather. Plan your planting so it matures on the average first frost date.
Plant seeds 1/2-3/4” deep and give the plants plenty of room, 4-6” between plants and 3 ft between
rows. The soil should be loose and as deep as possible. Don’t be surprised if there is as much root
growing above the soil line as below.
Chinese radishes can take 6 months to reach full size but most reach usable size in 60-70 days. They
are tender and edible even when quite large. Just like spring radishes, they become hot and pithy
when overmature.
Harvest varieties grown for leaves when there are enough leaves to make it worthwhile, often in less
than 30 days. Just like the root varieties, they grow best in cool weather of spring and fall.

References
Chinese Vegetables, Purdue University
    http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/HO-187.pdf
Radish, Chinese, University of Florida
    http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/MV120




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                  3/2011                   Page 28 of 94
Root Crops

Parsnips (Pastinaca sativa)
Parsnips are in the Apiaceae, like carrots, and parsnip roots even look like white carrots. The root of
these biennials is harvested after the first season of growth. Parsnips take at least 120 days to
mature and are considered a full-season crop. Grow them as you would carrots, in loose soil.
Though parsnips can be planted in spring, your best option may be to delay planting until mid-late
June so the roots mature in October. Flavor does not fully develop until the roots have been exposed
to near-freezing temperatures for 2-4 weeks. The exposure to cold turns stored starch to sugar,
resulting in a sweet, nutlike flavor. If you do harvest parsnips before cold weather, store them for 2
weeks at temperatures just above freezing (but not below) to make them sweeter.
Parsnip seed does not store well, so purchase new each year. Plant seeds 1/2-3/4” deep, 2-3 seeds
per inch in rows at least 18” apart. Parsnip seed is slow to germinate, like carrot seed, and seedlings
have difficulty pushing through crusted soil. As with carrots, you can plant radish seeds among the
parsnips to help prevent crusting and mark the location of the parsnips.
Thin seedlings to no more than 2-4” apart. Wide spacing allows the roots to become overly large and
they become woody. If planting in wide rows, space 4”x4”. Side-dressing may be needed mid-season.
Leave parsnips in the ground until the tops freeze in late fall. Harvest then or cover with straw
mulch and dig throughout the winter but before the soil begins to freeze and thaw in spring (roots
become cracked and pithy) and before new growth begins and the roots lose their quality. Estimated
yield per 10 ft row is 10-12 lb.
Caution: parsnip leaves cause an allergic reaction in some people (skin rash, blisters). Long pants
and a shirt with long sleeves are recommended when handling parsnips.




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                  3/2011                   Page 29 of 94
Root Crops

Turnip and Rutabaga (Brassica rapa and Brassica napus)
Turnip and rutabaga are biennials harvested after their first season of growth. Both are in the
mustard family (Brassicaceae) and, like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower, perform best if they
mature in cool weather.
Turnip leaves are eaten as greens. Additionally, both turnips and rutabagas are grown for their
swollen roots that are used in soups and stews. Turnip roots are usually white with a purple top.
Rutabagas are often tan with yellow flesh. The roots of both are more tender with better flavor if
harvested before they become large.
Since the root of each plant can only be harvested once, several successive plantings will ensure a
continual harvest.
Both turnip and rutabaga are hardy to fall frost. Plantings ready to harvest at about the average first
frost date can just be left in the ground and harvested as needed into early winter. A heavy straw
mulch will keep the soil from cooling quickly and make harvesting easier. Turnips and rutabagas, and
radishes as well, are attacked by root maggots. Crop rotation will help.

Turnips
Turnips grow to 18”, can be planted as both a spring and fall crop, and are somewhat shade tolerant.
Several different varieties are available, some preferred for greens, others for turnip roots.
In spring, begin planting seeds directly into the garden 6 weeks before average last frost. Seeds will
germinate when soil is 40 °F, in 5 days or less when soil is 50 °F or warmer. Make successive plantings
every 10 days or so for the next 4-6 weeks. Plant seeds 1/2” deep, either by broadcasting them, then
raking, or in rows 12” apart. Turnips are usually planted thickly, then thinned to 2-4” when leaves
are about 4” high. This will be your first harvest of turnip greens. Spacing within a wide row is 2”-4”.
Side-dress with 0.1 pounds actual N/100 sq ft when greens are about a third grown if growing for
greens. If growing for roots, side-dressing is usually not needed.
Harvest leaves as needed when leaves are 4-6”. Greens are ready in about 30 days, turnip roots in
about 60 days. Harvest roots when 2-3” in diameter by removing the whole plant from the ground.
Fall plantings can begin in July. Plan for the last planting to mature around the average first frost
date. Fall turnips can tolerate temperatures into the low 20s with protection. Estimated yield per 10
ft row is 5-10 lb of either roots or greens.


Rutabagas
Rutabaga is very similar to turnip but it is larger, growing to 2 ft, and takes longer to mature, about
85-95 days.
Though seed can be planted directly into the garden as early as 6 weeks before average last frost
date, a spring planting is chancy, especially in southern Indiana. Extended cold weather (50-55 °F)
after the seedlings emerge can cause the plant to bolt. If the weather warms quickly, the roots
mature in hot weather and become very woody.
Summer plantings for a fall harvest are almost always successful. Planting starts in June, later for
southern Indiana. Plan for the last planting to mature around the average last frost date (plant 10-12
weeks before that date). Plant seeds ½” deep in rows 12-18” apart to take into account rutabaga’s
size. Thin to 6” when seedlings are 2” high. Greens are edible. Spacing within a wide row is 4-6”.
Side-dress with 0.1 pounds actual N/100 sq ft when plants are 4-6” tall. Plants grow to about 2 ft.
Harvest when swollen roots are 3-5” in diameter. Estimated yield per 10 ft row is 35 lb.

Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                  3/2011                    Page 30 of 94
Cole Crops and Related Vegetables – Introduction
Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower, collards, kale, and kohlrabi all belong to the
same species, Brassica oleracea. Each has been selected for a specific form: cauliflower for its
immature flower head, for example, and kohlrabi for its edible swollen stem. Collectively these
vegetables are known as cole crops.

All cole crops prefer cool temperatures. They need steady growth for best productivity. Cold
temperatures after planting, hot weather as the crop matures, and inconsistent soil moisture can
slow growth and cause problems (see the individual vegetable for details). Thus, these crops can be
near failures some years and produce well in others. Most are prone to the same insect pests and
diseases so crop rotation is an important management tool.

Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards and kale, and kohlrabi are discussed here.
Related vegetables, also in the mustard family (Brassicaceae) - broccoli raab and Asian cabbage and
broccoli – are also discussed.

Other related vegetables covered in this encyclopedia are horseradish, radish, turnip and rutabaga,
mustard, and arugula. For best results, just like the cole crops, these vegetables need to grow
steadily and mature in cool weather.


Links to specific vegetables
Broccoli
Broccoli raab
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage
Asian cabbage and broccoli
Cauliflower
Collards and kale
Kohlrabi




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                  3/2011                   Page 31 of 94
Cole crops and related vegetables

Broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica)
Family: Brassicaceae      Related vegetables: arugula, Brussels sprouts, cabbage (all types),
                               cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, radish, rutabaga, turnip,
                               horseradish, collards, watercress

Snapshot
• Cool season annual.
• There are different types of broccoli—annual green or, more rarely, purple “heading” broccoli;
   “romanesco,” which has yellowish green, conical groups of buds arranged in spirals; and
   sprouting broccoli, an overwintering annual or perennial, rarely grown in this country. Heading
   broccoli forms the large, rounded flower heads commonly seen in groceries. Sprouting broccoli
   forms small shoots in the leaf axils over a long period instead of forming a large head.
• Unopened flower buds, stems, and young, tender leaves can be eaten.
• Medium height, about 3 ft.
• In spring, plant transplants 4-6 weeks before average last frost date. Planting can continue into
   April, even through May in the coldest part of the state. If growing from seed, start indoors 5-7
   weeks earlier. Spacing is 18-24”, rows a minimum of 36” apart, spacing within a wide row is 12”-
   18”.
• For a fall harvest, plant transplants about 70 days before the average first frost date. Seeds can
   be planted outdoors 4-6 weeks earlier. No matter the season, broccoli grows best if it can mature
   when air temperatures are somewhat warm but not hot (less than 80 °F). Broccoli is very frost
   tolerant. Mature plants can survive temperatures down to 25 °F, perhaps lower with protection.
• First harvest is about 60 days from transplant and about 110 from seed. Cut off flower head
   before flowers open plus about 5” of stem. Small side shoots may develop, providing an
   additional harvest. Estimated yield per 10 ft row is 10 lb.

Planting
• Broccoli is usually put into the garden as transplants. These can be purchased or you can grow
   your own from seed. For spring planting, start seeds indoors 5-7 weeks before your anticipated
   planting date. Temperature optimum for germination is 70-80 °F, for seedling growth is 60-70 °F.
   Plant seeds 1/4-1/2” deep, seedlings appear in about 5 days.
• The first transplants can be put into the soil 4-6 weeks before the average last frost date.
   Seedlings should have at least 4 pairs of leaves. Smaller seedlings are very sensitive to frost.
• Planting for fall harvest is done in late summer. If using transplants, assume harvest will be on
   average first frost date, then count back the number of days from transplant to harvest for your
   cultivar plus 10 days. You can grow these transplants from seed also. Since the soil has warmed,
   you may be able to plant seeds directly into the garden as well as starting them indoors. Plant
   seeds 4-6 weeks before the anticipated transplanting date.
• Practice crop rotation. Do not plant the same area with a cole crop two years running.

Care Notes
• When planting in spring (into cold soil), a starter fertilizer may help the plants become
   established.
• Side-dress with 0.1 lb actual N/100 sq ft three weeks after transplanting when rapid growth has
   begun.
• Make sure plants receive 1” of water a week during head formation.


Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                3/2011                   Page 32 of 94
Harvesting
• First harvest is about 60 days from transplanting or 110 days from seeding.
• When individual buds of broccoli are match-head size and distinct in appearance, the head is as
   large as it is going to get (typically 3-6”). This size varies with cultivar. Cut off central flower
   cluster with 5” or more of stem when the head appears full and tight, before the flowers open.
• Side shoots with smaller flower cluster will develop on the remaining stem after the central head
   is removed. The more stem you leave, the more side shoots will form. You can continue to
   harvest these smaller heads until hot weather or a freeze stops production.

Common Problems
• High temperatures (over 77 °F) cause the heads to become leafy and may prevent heads from
   forming at all.
• Larger transplants may respond to temperatures below 50 °F by “buttoning” (forming very small
   heads).
• Several caterpillars attack broccoli, feeding on stems and leaves - cabbage loopers, imported
   cabbage worm, diamondback moth, cabbage webworm, and corn earworm. Cabbage aphid can be
   a problem. Flea beetles can damage small seedlings.
• Diseases are usually not serious. Black rot, downy and powdery mildew, Alternaria leaf spot, and
   soft rot can be occasional problems.

References
Growing Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, and Other Cole Crops in Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin
   http://learningstore.uwex.edu/assets/pdfs/A3684.PDF




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                  3/2011                   Page 33 of 94
Cole crops and related vegetables

Broccoli raab (Brassica ruva or Brassica rapa, ruvo group)
Broccoli raab (also called broccoli de rapa, rapini, broccoli turnip, Chinese flowering cabbage, choy
sum) is more closely related to turnip than to broccoli. Leaves, stems, and the small 1” flower heads
are eaten.
Broccoli raab is planted from seed or transplant either in early spring (4-6 weeks before the average
last frost date) or late summer. You may find two varieties of seeds. One is preferred for spring
planting. The one preferred for fall planting produces flowers more quickly than the spring variety.
In warmer climates a late summer planting may overwinter with the plant acting like a biennial.
When planted in spring, broccoli raab grows as an annual.
Planting, culture, and problems are similar to broccoli and other Brassicaceae.
Broccoli raab is ready to harvest in 40-60 days, growing a bit faster as the weather warms. It goes to
seed quickly, so make sure to harvest before flower buds open. Plants are usually 10-15” high when
ready to harvest. Cut off most of the plant. If conditions remain favorable, a 2nd or 3rd harvest is
possible.

References
Broccoli Raab, North Carolina State University
    http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-5-a.html
Broccoli, Raab, University of Florida
    http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/MV033




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                 3/2011                    Page 34 of 94
Cole crops and related vegetables

Brussels Sprouts (Brassica oleracea var. gemmifera)
Family: Brassicaceae      Related vegetables: arugula, Brussels sprouts, cabbage (all types),
                               cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, radish, rutabaga, turnip,
                               horseradish, collards, watercress

Snapshot
• Hardy biennial harvested at the end of the first season.
• Enlarged buds at the base of leaves, called sprouts, are harvested during first season of growth.
• Medium height, 2- 3 ft.
• Spring plantings are usually not successful. This vegetable needs a long season of growth and cool
   weather as the buds mature.
• For fall harvest, start seeds in mid-June to transplant into the garden in late July-early August.
   Space 18-24” apart, with minimum row spacing of 24”. Spacing within a wide row is 18-24”.
• First harvest is 85-100 days from transplanting, 130 days from seed. Lowest buds mature first.
   Harvest when they are 1-2” in diameter. Remove the leaves at the base of the buds you harvest.

Planting
• Plant seeds 1/4”-1/2” deep. Germination is best at 70-80 °F and seedlings will appear in about 5
   days. Grow the seedlings a bit cooler, at 60-70 °F. They will be ready for transplanting in 4-5
   weeks. You may also be able to purchase transplants.
• If you try a spring planting, put transplants out early, in March or early April.
• Summer planting for fall harvest are more common. Have plants in the ground by early July in
   northern Indiana, by mid-August in southern Indiana.
• Practice crop rotation. Do not plant the same area with a cole crop two years running.

Care Notes
• If planting in spring (into cold soil), a starter fertilizer may help the plants become established.
• Make sure plants receive 1-1.5” of water per week.
• Side-dress with 0.1 lb actual N/100 sq ft about 3 weeks after transplanting when rapid growth has
   begun.

Harvesting
• The first sprouts will be ready to harvest in about 85 days. The lowest buds mature first, with
   new buds forming as the plant continues to grow upward. Pick the buds as they reach 1-2” in
   size.
• As you harvest each bud, remove the leaf below it. Some gardeners believe the sprouts develop
   better if the lowest 6-8 leaves are removed as the sprouts develop. Then, 2-3 additional leaves
   are removed each week. Leaves are essential to plant growth, so always leave several leaves at
   the top of the plant.
• The first harvests, in warmer weather, will be every 7-14 days with 2-6 buds removed per plant.
   As the weather cools, harvest is more infrequent but more buds are harvested each time.
• Brussels sprouts will withstand a frost and harvest continues until a freeze. Frost may improve
   flavor, making them more firm and less bitter. A single plant may yield 2.5-3 pounds of sprouts
   over the season.



Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                 3/2011                   Page 35 of 94
Additional information
The “s” on the end of Brussels is not a misspelling. This vegetable is named after the city of Brussels,
in Belgium.

Common Problems
See insect pests listed under broccoli.
See diseases under cabbage.

References
Growing Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, and Other Cole Crops in Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin
    http://learningstore.uwex.edu/assets/pdfs/A3684.PDF
Brussels Sprouts, North Carolina State University
    http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-6.html




                                                    Always retain the top leaves of Brussels
                                                    sprouts. They provide energy that keeps the
                                                    plant producing.




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                  3/2011                    Page 36 of 94
Cole crops and related vegetables

Cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata)
Family: Brassicaceae      Related vegetables: arugula, Brussels sprouts, cabbage (all types),
                               cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, radish, rutabaga, turnip,
                               horseradish, collards, watercress

Snapshot
• Hardy biennial harvested the first season. The terminal cluster of leaves, often called a head, is
   eaten.
• There are several types of cabbage. You can grow green ones, red ones, or ones with crinkled
   leaves called savoy cabbage. Round heads are typical but you can also find more flattened or
   more pointed varieties. There are early maturing varieties, with smaller heads, that are planted
   in spring to mature before hot weather arrives. Late maturing varieties are commonly planted for
   fall harvest. They often form very large heads (several pounds) and are best used for preserving
   (e.g. sauerkraut).
• Plants are short, about 18”.
• In spring, plant transplants 2-6 weeks before average last frost date, continuing until very early
   April in southern Indiana, into May in the coldest part of the state. If growing from seed start
   indoors 5-7 weeks earlier. Ideal transplants are stocky, have 4-6 true leaves, and stems about the
   size of a pencil. Plant 12-24” apart in rows a minimum of 18” apart. Spacing within a wide row is
   12-18”.
• For fall harvest, plant transplants 7-9 weeks before average first frost date (about mid-July in
   northern IN, late August in southern Indiana). Cabbage is quite cold tolerant and you may be able
   to harvest after that date.
• First heads can be harvested 7-9 weeks from transplanting though this can vary from 60 days to
   more than 90 days, depending on variety. Estimated yield per 10 ft row is 5-10 heads.

Planting
• Sow seeds 1/4-1/2” deep. Seeds are usually started indoors but may be planted in soil for the fall
   crop. Seeds germinate in 4-5 days at 70-80 °F. Grow on at 60-70 °F with cooler night
   temperatures.
• Once planted outdoors, transplants with fewer than 4 true leaves are more sensitive to cold than
   larger transplants. Very mature transplants (more than 6 leaves) may produce inferior crops or
   may begin to flower prematurely.
• Spring planting dates are usually given as 2-6 weeks before average last frost date. The earliest
   plantings are chancy because a prolonged cold spell, which will cause the plant to bolt (see
   “Common Problems” below), is more likely at this time. Wait until soil has warmed to 40 °F
   before transplanting.
• Practice crop rotation. Do not plant the same area with a cole crop two years running.

Care Notes
• When planting in spring (into cold soil), a starter fertilizer may help the plants become
   established.
• Side-dress with 0.1 lb actual N/100 sq ft about three weeks after transplanting when rapid
   growth has begun.
• Cabbage needs constant steady growth for best head development. Water if rainfall is lacking,
   especially during head development.


Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                3/2011                   Page 37 of 94
•   When the heads grow too rapidly they may split. This can occur when a dry spell is followed by
    lots of rain or simply when warm weather stimulates rapid growth. To slow down growth and
    prevent splitting, grab the developing head and twist it to sever some of the roots, or simply root
    prune by pushing a trowel or shovel down into the soil at several points around the plant.

Harvesting
• Harvest when the head is solid. For a single planting, harvest may last several weeks, with
   smaller heads from the first plants harvested, larger heads later on. A single plant will yield
   only 1 large head.
• Spring plantings are always in danger from early hot weather, which will cause the heads to grow
   rapidly and split. Don’t delay harvesting of the spring crop.
• Cabbage is quite cold tolerant and you will probably be able to harvest the fall crop even after a
   hard frost. Mature plants can survive temperatures to almost 20 °F.
• Harvest by cutting the stem immediately under the head, leaving the loose outer leaves.
• Small heads (2-4”) may grow at the base of the leaves on the cut stump, allowing a second small
   harvest from each plant.

Common Problems
• Seedlings exposed to low temperature (40-50 °F) for more than 2 weeks may begin to flower
   (bolt). This can be a problem with the spring crop. Replant if still early enough with a rapidly
   maturing variety.
• Cabbage yellows is a fungal disease that causes leaves to yellow and fall off. The disease can
   persist in the soil for several years. Disease-resistant varieties are now available and are highly
   recommended.
• Black rot is a bacterial disease. The veins of the leaf turn black and it soon falls. Black rot can
   affect cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower. Disease-resistant varieties are now available and are
   highly recommended.
• For common insects, see Common Problems under broccoli.

References
Growing Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, and Other Cole Crops in Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin
   http://learningstore.uwex.edu/assets/pdfs/A3684.PDF




                                                          Small heads often develop below the
                                                          cut stump after the central, large
                                                          head is removed. Both cabbage and
                                                          broccoli may produce a second harvest
                                                          in this way, but cauliflower will not.




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                  3/2011                    Page 38 of 94
Cole crops and related vegetables

Asian Cabbage and Broccoli (also called Chinese or Oriental cabbage)
(Brassica rapa)
Several members of the mustard family (Brassicaceae), different from the plants grown in Western
Europe and the US, are popular in China, Japan, and other Asian countries. Plants that look most like
our common cabbage may be called celery cabbage, pe-tsai, napa or nappa (Japanese), hakusai
(Japanese), pao, hsin pei tsai (Mandarin), and bow sum and bok choi (Cantonese). Depending on the
variety, they may form elongated heads, rounded head, or no head at all (e.g. bok choy or pak choi,
also called mustard cabbage). Chinese broccoli, which resembles sprouting broccoli, is called gai lan.
All of these plants are grown as described for cabbage and broccoli. They may be started from seed
or planted as transplants in both spring and fall. Some varieties mature in 40 days from seed, others
in 75. Time planting for 3-4 weeks before average last frost date. Spacing is 12” for upright varieties,
8-12” for bok choy types, and up to 24” for large heading types.
For fall crops, plan on first harvest on the average first frost date and calculate planting times from
the days to harvest information. To harvest, cut off whole plant at ground level. Discard tough outer
leaves. Estimated yield per 10 ft row is 7-10 heads.
Diseases and insect pests are the same as those that affect cole crops more commonly grown in the
US. Crop rotation will help control these problems. Do not plant the same area with a cole crop two
years running.
Some varieties, especially bok choy, seem especially prone to bolting (premature flowering) if
exposed to cold weather (60 °F and below) for several days. Because of this, fall plantings are more
reliable than spring plantings.

References
Chinese Vegetables, Purdue University
    http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/HO-187.pdf
Cabbage, Chinese, University of Florida
    http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/MV036




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                  3/2011                    Page 39 of 94
Cole crops and related vegetables

Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis)
Family: Brassicaceae      Related vegetables: arugula, Brussels sprouts, cabbage (all types),
                                cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, radish, rutabaga, turnip,
                                horseradish, collards, watercress

Snapshot
• Cauliflower is a hardy biennial. The head, called the curd, is made of dormant flower buds. The
   curd is usually white (snowball type), blanched by pulling the leaves over the head during
   growth. Hybrids between broccoli and cauliflower are available with purple or green heads
   (“broccoflower”). Purple cauliflower tastes like broccoli if harvested before frost, like
   cauliflower if harvested after frost. The purple color is lost during cooking.
• Plants are medium height, about 3 ft.
• For spring planting, put transplants in the ground 2-3 weeks before average last frost date after
   the soil has warmed to 50 °F. Do not plant so late that the curd matures in the heat of the
   summer. If growing from seed, plant indoors 5-7 weeks earlier. Space plants 18-24” apart with
   rows a minimum of 24” apart. Spacing within a wide row is 12-18”.
• For fall harvest, plant transplants 7-9 weeks before average first frost date (about mid-August in
   northern Indiana, late August in southern Indiana). Put transplants further apart than the spacing
   listed for spring plantings.
• Cauliflower is ready for harvest 50-55 days from transplanting for early season cultivars and in 70-
   80 days for late season varieties. Harvest by cutting far enough below the head to include several
   leaves to help hold the head together. Each plant produces only one head. Estimated yield per 10
   ft row is 10 lb.

Planting
• Sow seeds 1/4-1/2” deep. Seeds are usually started indoors but may be planted in soil for the fall
   crop. Seeds germinate in 5-6 days at 70-80 °F. Grow on at 60-70 °F with cooler night
   temperatures.
• If using transplants, don’t let them get too large (no more than about 4”) before planting.
   However, plants with less than 3-4 pairs of true leaves are sensitive to frost.
• Practice crop rotation. Do not plant the same area with a cole crop two years running.

Care Notes
• When planting in spring (into cold soil), a starter fertilizer may help the plants become
   established.
• Side-dress with 0.1 lb actual N/100 sq ft about 3 wks after transplanting when rapid growth has
   begun.
• Cauliflower needs constant steady growth for best head development. Water if rainfall is lacking.
• Blanching is necessary to obtain white curds. When the curd is 2-3” in diameter fold the leaves
   below the head up over it and secure them (try a rubber band or toothpicks). The curd will grow
   quickly, often reaching 6-8” in diameter in 3 or 4 days in warm weather, in about 2 weeks in cool
   weather.




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                 3/2011                   Page 40 of 94
Harvesting
• Harvest cauliflower after the curd has turned white and reached mature size. Once blanching
   begins, check the head every few days so it does not become overmature. Harvest cauliflower
   heads when they are six or more inches in diameter but before the flower parts separate. If left
   too long, the heads will tend to rot in warm weather and begin to flower in cool weather. If this
   happens, the anthers and stamens will turn the curd fuzzy and grey-brown, a condition called
   riciness.
• Harvest cauliflower by cutting below the head with a sharp knife. Include a few leaves with the
   head since they will help hold it together.
• Each plant produces only one head. Unlike broccoli and cabbage, the cut stump will not produce
   smaller heads for a second harvest.
• Time from planting to harvest varies greatly depending on cultivar. The seed packet or plant tag
   should give you this information.
• Mature cauliflower can tolerate temperatures below freezing. Harvest or protect if temperatures
   threaten to dip into the upper 20s.

Additional info
There are cauliflower varieties that may help you avoid the problems that commonly afflict
cauliflower:
• Some varieties are self-blanching (though check to make sure leaves are completely covering the
   head).
• The purple and green-headed varieties do not need blanching because you do not want them to
   be white.
• There are also varieties with more tolerance to heat (for spring planting) and frost (for late
   summer planting) and some with disease resistance. See the Illinois “Watch Your Garden Grow”
   website for recommendations (http://urbanext.illinois.edu/veggies/cauliflower.cfm).

Common problems
• Cauliflower is considered to be more difficult to grow than either broccoli or cabbage. It is not as
   tolerant to heat, cold, or drought. Any factor that interrupts its growth can cause problems. If
   growth is interrupted, the plant may button - form a small, hard, inedible head. This can be
   caused by using overly-large transplants, crowding transplants in small containers, cold
   temperatures lasting several days, a dry spell, or lack of nitrogen. Fall crops are usually more
   reliable because the chance of cold temperatures soon after planting and chance of hot weather
   as the plant matures are lower than in spring.
• If temperatures are above 80 °F during curd formation, leaves may form in the head, the head
   may become rough in texture, have a purple or green coloration, or simply not form at all.
• The insects and diseases that attack cabbage and broccoli can also be problems with cauliflower.

Reference
Growing Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, and Other Cole Crops in Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin
   http://learningstore.uwex.edu/assets/pdfs/A3684.PDF




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                 3/2011                   Page 41 of 94
Cole crops and related vegetables

Collards and Kale (Brassica oleracea var. acephala)
Collards and kale are thought to be non-heading cabbages. Collards has smooth leaves, kale has
crinkled leaves like a savoy cabbage. “Flowering kale” often has pink, red, or white in the leaves and
is planted as an ornamental along with mums in the autumn garden.
Both collards and kale are biennials. They are harvested for their leaves during the first season of
growth. Both reach about 2 ft in height and are less troubled by insect pests than other cole crops.
Crop rotation will help control diseases.

Collards
Collards is one of the most heat and cold tolerant cole crops. In Indiana, transplants can be planted
almost continuously from mid-March to August (start seed indoors 3 weeks earlier, put directly into
the soil for late season plantings). Plant 6” apart, then harvest some plants as they reach 6-10” high
to increase spacing to 18”. Rows should be at least 36” apart. Spacing within a wide row is 12-15”.
You can harvest a few of the largest leaves on each plant every few days. If the plant is well-cared
for (side-dress with 0.1 lb actual N/100 sq ft if plant shows signs of nitrogen deficiency), it will
continue to produce until frost. You can also harvest the entire crop at the 6-10” stage. Plants are
ready to harvest in 50-80 days. Replant when leaves become tough.
Water during the heat of the summer if rainfall is lacking to ensure continual production. Collards
can tolerate temperatures into the mid-20s. Estimated yield per 10 ft row is 10 lb.

Kale
Kale is cold tolerant but not as heat tolerant as collards. Grow it in spring, then again in fall. You will
probably be able to harvest until the ground freezes hard in early winter. Frost improves the flavor.
Avoid planting so the crop matures in summer. High temperatures slow plant growth and make the
leaves tough and bitter. Kale will tolerate part shade.
Plant seed directly into the garden starting 4-6 weeks before average last frost continuing until about
that date. Alternately, you can start seeds indoors 5-7 weeks before transplanting.
Fall planting begins mid-July in the north, early September in the south. The last planting should be
6-8 weeks before the average first frost date. Place 8-12” apart, rows 18” apart. Spacing within a
wide row is 15-18”. Side-dress with 0.1 lb actual N/100 sq ft when plants are about one-third grown.
Harvest about 50 days after seeding, before leaves become tough and fibrous. You can harvest either
the whole plant or harvest a few of the oldest leaves, continuing until the heat of summer or cold of
winter stops production. Kale can tolerate temperatures into the mid-20s. Estimated yield per 10 ft
row is 2-5 lb.

Reference
Growing Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, and Other Cole Crops in Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin
   http://learningstore.uwex.edu/assets/pdfs/A3684.PDF




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                    3/2011                    Page 42 of 94
Cole crops and related vegetables

Kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea var. gongylodes)
Kohlrabi is a biennial harvested the first season of growth. Seedlings quickly form a swollen stem,
sometimes called a bulb, just above ground level. The leaves stick out like spokes and the plant
reaches a height of about 18”. The bulb may be light green or purple, with white flesh. Kohlrabi
tastes like a sweet, mild turnip.
Like all cole crops, kohlrabi does best when allowed to mature in cool weather. For spring crop,
plant seeds directly into the garden, 1/4-1/2” deep, starting about 4 weeks before average last frost
date. Thin to 3-6”, with 18” minimum row spacing. Spacing within a wide row is 4-8”. Start seeds
indoors 4-6 weeks earlier, then transplant for an earlier harvest. There is only one bulb per plant, so
make several small plantings a few weeks apart. Kohlrabi is more tolerant of heat than other cole
crops, so you may be able to continue planting for 4-6 weeks.
For fall harvest, plant seeds in mid-summer. Plant your last crop to mature a week or two after
average first frost date since kohlrabi can easily survive a frost, even temperatures into the mid-20s.
Varieties mature in 38-55 days.
Fertilize kohlrabi midseason with 0.1 lb actual N/100 sq ft. Water if rainfall is lacking since this will
keep the bulbs from becoming tough and woody.
Insects and diseases are usually not serious problems. A few caterpillars feeding on the leaves do not
reduce the harvest.
Harvest kohlrabi when the swollen stem is small and has the mildest flavor. Larger bulbs can be
tough and woody. Begin harvest when it reaches 1” diameter and continue until it reaches the size
for the variety you have chosen. New varieties such as 'Gigante' and 'Kossak' do not become woody.
To harvest, simply pull the plant from the ground. Estimated yield per 10 ft row is 8 lb.

Reference
Growing Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, and Other Cole Crops in Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin
   http://learningstore.uwex.edu/assets/pdfs/A3684.PDF




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                    3/2011                    Page 43 of 94
Tomatoes, Peppers, and Related Plants - Introduction
Tomatoes, peppers and chiles, eggplant, tomatillo, and potatoes are all members of the nightshade
family (Solanaceae). Though some members of this family contain poisonous alkaloids (as do potato
tubers that turn green after exposure to sunlight), these five vegetables are some of the favorites of
the Indiana vegetable garden.

All except potatoes grow best in warm weather. All, except potato, are eaten for the tasty fruit they
produce. These vegetables share some of the same pests and crop rotation can be an important
control strategy. Tobacco is in the nightshade family, too. Gardeners who use tobacco should wash
their hands thoroughly before working with any of these vegetables. Their hands can spread a
disease, tobacco mosaic virus, to these vegetables.

Tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant are covered in detail. Brief information is given for tomatillo, a
vegetable popular in Mexico and other parts of the Americas. Potatoes are covered in detail in the
Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes section of this encyclopedia.


Links to specific vegetables
Tomatoes
Peppers and Chiles
Eggplant
Tomatillo




                                                       Peppers, chiles, tomatoes, and eggplant come
                                                       in many shapes and colors. These are yellow
                                                       peppers that mature to red.



Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                 3/2011                    Page 44 of 94
Tomatoes, Peppers, and Related Plants

Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum, formerly Lycopersicon esculentum)
Family: Solanaceae          Related vegetables: eggplant, pepper and chiles, potato, tomatillo

Snapshot
• Tender (warm-season) perennial grown as an annual. The fruit is harvested.
• There are many different types of tomatoes and many different ways to grow them. See
   “Additional Information” below.
• Height is cultivar dependent but some tomatoes can grow as tall as 6 ft, especially if staked.
• Plant transplants two weeks after average last frost date. Planting can continue until
   midsummer. Last planting date is about 100 days before average first frost date.
• Spacing is dependent on variety. Space dwarf plants 12” apart; staked plants 15-24” apart; caged
   plants and plants allowed to sprawl on the ground 24-36” apart. (see “Additional Information”
   below).
• Harvest tomatoes when fully colored. Time from planting to first harvest varies with cultivar,
   usually 60-90 days. Yield depends on cultural system, see “Additional Information” below.

Planting
• You can grow your own tomatoes from seeds started indoors or buy transplants. Tomato seeds are
   rarely planted directly into the garden in Indiana.
• Start seeds indoors planting them 1/4-1/2” deep, 4-6 weeks before the average last frost date.
   At optimum germination temperatures of 75-80 °F seedlings should appear in about 6 days. Grow
   them at 60-75 °F. Transplant into larger pots as the seedlings grow and give them good light so
   the plants stay short and stocky.
• If you purchase transplants, look for short, stocky plants with good root systems and stems about
   the thickness of a pencil. If you must purchase tall, leggy transplants, plant them by placing them
   on their side and covering the lower portion of the stem with soil. New roots will form on the
   stem.
• Plant out about 2 weeks after the average last frost date or when soil temperature remains above
   60 °F.
• If using cages or stakes, put these in the ground as you place the transplants.
• If growing in container, select container proportional to the expected size of the plant.

Care notes
• Tomatoes are heavy feeders. Side-dress with 0.1 lb actual N/100 sq ft three times over the
   summer: 1) two weeks after first fruit set, when first tomato about golf ball size, 2) two weeks
   after picking first ripe tomato, 3) one month later (six weeks after picking first ripe tomato).
• Consistent soil moisture is needed to reduce incidence of blossom end rot and fruit cracking.
   Mulching highly recommended.
• Removing suckers is often recommended for tomatoes. The word “sucker” has a special meaning
   when discussing tomatoes. Suckers are not shoots growing out of the ground at the base of the
   plant but the side shoots that grow at the nodes on the stem. Suckers may or may not be
   removed depending on the cultural system you select (see “Additional Information” below).




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                 3/2011                   Page 45 of 94
Harvesting
• The first tomatoes typically ripen in 60-90 days (early varieties-late varieties) after transplanting.
   For a single tomato fruit, time from fruit set to red maturity is 45-60 days.
• Harvest tomatoes when they are fully colored. Large immature fruit that has reached the
   “mature green stage” (full size but not yet red with white, star shaped zone at bottom of fruit)
   will ripen indoors, without sunlight, at around 70 °F if harvested before a killing freeze.
• Harvest by gently twisting stem and pulling or by cutting.

Additional Information
Tomatoes may be the most popular vegetable in the home garden. There are many tomato cultivars,
many types of tomatoes, and many ways to grow them. A brief summary is given here.

Determinate vs. indeterminate: Determinate varieties reach a certain size, set fruit, then usually
decline. The fruit all matures at about the same time, a convenience if you are preserving the
harvest. Indeterminate varieties set fruit throughout the season producing fewer mature fruit at any
one time but often producing fruit until a killing freeze.

Disease resistant varieties: many of the newer varieties are resistant to some of the worst pests of
tomatoes. Look for varieties labeled as VF, VFN, or VFNT, indicating they are resistant to
Verticillium, Fusarium, Nematodes, or Tobacco mosaic virus.

Types and flavors of fruit: Some tomato varieties produce exceptionally large fruit, others small
cherry tomatoes. Most are red but you’ll also see yellow, orange, and purple. Some are great eating
tomatoes, others (the paste tomatoes) are better for making sauces. More modern varieties are bred
for diseases resistance and early maturity; heirloom varieties may have the flavor (and pest
problems) you remember from childhood. Some tomato varieties are noted for having low or high
sugar content or low or high acidity. Since you can often buy a single plant at the garden center, it’s
easy to try different varieties each year. Other Master Gardeners can recommend varieties that have
performed well for them.

Cultural systems: Tomato plants may be allowed to sprawl on the ground, tied to a stake, or grown
inside a wire cage.
Staking produces fewer tomatoes per plant (10-15 lb yield per plant) but each plant takes up less
space. Fruit may be larger and easier to pick but fruit cracking and blossom end rot may be more of
a problem. If the plant is staked, one or two stems are allowed to grow and all other side-shoots
(suckers) are removed.
Both sprawling and caged plants have similar yields, 15-25 lb per plant. Allowing plants to sprawl on
the soil takes less work but the most space. Suckers are not removed. Fruit can become sunburned
and may be susceptible to diseases if allowed to rest on the soil. Commercial tomato farms often
grow tomatoes this way.
Growing tomato plants inside a wire cage is a popular home gardening method. Yield is high. It is less
labor-intensive than staking tomatoes but you must purchase, then store the wire cage. Select a cage
with large openings so you can reach inside to harvest the tomatoes. Removal of side-shoots
(suckers) is not needed, but some gardeners remove them early in the season, allowing the plant to
grow naturally later in the season. Fruit may be slower to mature on these plants than in other
methods.




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                  3/2011                    Page 46 of 94
Common problems
• Blossom end rot, technically a lack of calcium, is usually caused by fluctuating soil moisture, not
   lack of calcium in the soil. Water if rainfall is lacking. You can verify that the problem is not
   caused by a lack of calcium by having your soil tested.
• Lack of fruit set. Fruit set on tomatoes is sensitive to temperature. Night temperatures appear to
   be most important – temperatures below 59 °F or above 68 °F often prevent fruit set. Daytime
   temperatures over 90 °F can also reduce fruit set. Fruit production will resume when
   temperatures moderate.
• Fruit cracking, caused by fluctuating soil moisture.
• Fruits with poor color, possibly with yellow or white-grey spots, may have sunscald or sunburn
   caused by too much direct sunlight on the fruit. It is usually a result of poor foliage cover.
• Tomatoes (and other members of the nightshade family) are extremely sensitive to the herbicide
   2,4-D. Leaves may become cupped, elongated, or twisted and the whole plant stunted. Fruit may
   only partially ripen. Do not use broad-leaf lawn herbicides near the vegetable garden. Do not
   mulch with grass clippings from a lawn treated with broad-leaf herbicides.
• Tomatoes are especially sensitive to juglone, a compound produced by walnut trees. Tomatoes
   grown near walnuts will turn yellow, wilt, and die. The only solution is to plant tomatoes further
   from the walnut tree.
• Diseases: several fungal leafspot (often called blights) and wilt diseases, tobacco mosaic virus,
   bacterial spot. Purchase resistant varieties and practice crop rotation. Fungicides may be used.
• Insects: Tobacco/tomato hornworm may eat leaves and cutworms may attack seedlings and small
   transplants. Hornworms can be removed by hand but they are difficult to spot. Barriers around
   seedlings will prevent cutworm damage.

References
Tomatoes, Purdue University
     http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/HO-26.pdf
Blossom End Rot of Tomato Fruit, Purdue University
     http://www.ces.purdue.edu/extmedia/BP/BP-13.html
Late Blight of Tomato and Potato, Purdue University
     http://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/BP/BP-80-W.pdf




                                                               Wire tomato cages will help support
                                                               the plant. Make sure you use one with
                                                               large openings so you can reach inside
                                                               to harvest the ripe tomatoes. In this
                                                               planting, black plastic was used to
                                                               warm the soil, retain soil moisture,
                                                               and reduce weed growth.




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                3/2011                   Page 47 of 94
Tomatoes, Peppers, and Related Plants

Peppers and Chiles (Capsicum annuum, Capsicum frutescens,
                    Capsicum chinense)
Family: Solanaceae                      Related vegetables: eggplant, potato, tomatillo, tomato

Snapshot
• Tender (warm season) perennial grown as an annual. The fruit is harvested. Green peppers are
   sometimes called mangos in Indiana.
• You can grow peppers with small or large fruit, with mild or hot fruit (often called chiles), with
   rounded or long and skinny fruit, and with fruit that matures to red, purple, yellow, or orange.
   Some varieties are grown as ornamentals. These almost always produce hot peppers.
• Plants of moderate height, about 3 ft.
• Plant transplants in the garden starting about two weeks after the average last frost date.
   Peppers are less cold tolerant than tomatoes. Delay transplanting until soil has warmed to 60 °F.
   Place plants 18-24” apart in rows a minimum of 18” apart. Spacing within a wide row is 12”x12”.
   Plants will produce all summer with perhaps a short break for the hottest weather, so repeat
   plantings are not necessary. You can plant as late as early-mid July and still get a crop unless you
   choose a variety that takes a long time to mature. Use a starter fertilizer at planting.
• Sweet peppers are usually harvested green and immature. Pick them whenever they reach usable
   size. Hot peppers, except jalapenos, are picked when fully ripe. All peppers will change color as
   they ripen, to red, yellow, orange, or purple. They will be somewhat sweeter when mature than
   they are when green. Typical maturity is 60-90 days after planting.
• Pick peppers and chiles carefully. The plant stems are brittle. It is best to cut off the pepper.
   Pulling may pull off a portion of the plant, too. Estimated yield per 10 ft row is 80 fruit.

Planting
• You can grow your own pepper plants from seeds started indoors or buy transplants. Because
   peppers and chiles come in so many different shapes, colors, and levels of hotness, many
   gardeners take advantage of the wide variety available at garden centers. Buy stocky plants 4-6”
   high with good green color.
• Pepper seeds are rarely planted directly into the garden in Indiana. Start seeds indoors, planting
   them about 1/2” deep 4-6 weeks before the average last frost date. At optimum germination
   temperatures of 75-80 °F seedlings should appear in 7-8 days. Grow them at 65-80 °F. Transplant
   into larger pots as the seedlings grow and give them good light so the plants stay short and
   stocky.
• Peppers will not tolerate prolonged periods below 50 °F and do not grow well in cold, wet soil.
   Don’t plant your peppers and chiles too early.

Care Notes
• Use a starter fertilizer at planting.
• Side-dress with 0.1 pounds actual N/100 sq ft after the first fruits set.
• Provide 1-1.5” water per week but be careful not to overwater. Insufficient soil moisture can
   lead to blossom end rot but waterlogged soils can cause the plant to drop flowers and small fruit.
• Pepper plants are brittle. In areas of high wind, staking or caging may be worthwhile.
• Sweet peppers grow best at 65-85 °F. They will not set fruit if temperatures fall below 60 °F or go
   above 90 °F. Because of this, there is often a drop in productivity in the hottest part of the
   summer. Production will resume when the weather cools a bit.

Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                 3/2011                    Page 48 of 94
•   Hot peppers can take more heat, growing best when days are over 75 and nights over 70 °F. They
    won’t set fruit if temperature falls below 60 °F but many will continue to produce even at
    temperatures over 90 °F.

Harvesting
• For most cultivars, fruit begins to mature in 60-90 days after transplanting. A single fruit matures
   to the green stage in 45-55 days after pollination; to colored stage 60-70 days after pollination.
• Sweet peppers may be picked green or ripe (when they are red or the color for your variety). You
   can begin picking when they reach a size you feel is acceptable. If you leave them until they
   color, they will often be sweeter in flavor.
• Most hot peppers are allowed to ripen before harvesting. Jalapenos can be picked green.
• Be very careful harvesting your peppers and chiles. A yank can take off a whole section of the
   plant. Use clippers or hold the plant firmly with one hand and snap off the fruit with the other.
   Leave about 1” of stem on the fruit.
• Fruit does not ripe all at once, so harvest regularly, about every 7-10 days. Fruit picked green
   will redden if stored above 50 °F

Additional Information
• Most peppers and chiles are Capsicum annuum. Tabasco peppers belong to the species Capsicum
   frutescens. Habanero peppers are Capsicum chinense. Despite the name, all peppers and chiles
   are native to the New World. Black pepper and Schezuan peppercorns are two completely
   different species and are not grown in American gardens.
• Pepper hotness is rated in Scoville heat units. Sweet bell peppers have a rating of 0 units.
   Jalapenos and cayenne are 10,000-18,000 units. Tabasco is around 40,000; habanero around
   100,000, but one variety can reach over 400,000. The “hot” is caused by the chemical capsicum.
   It is concentrated in the inner ribs of the pepper and somewhat in the fleshy part of the fruit.
   There is no capsicum in the seeds.
• If you are a chile pepper enthusiast, you might enjoy visiting the website of The Chile Pepper
   Institute at New Mexico State University.

Common Problems
• There are environmental situations that can cause problems. Blossom end rot, technically a lack
   of calcium, is usually caused by fluctuating soil moisture not lack of soil calcium. Water if rainfall
   is lacking. (A soil test will tell you soil calcium level.) Excess soil moisture can cause fruit and
   flowers to drop. Off-white blotches and papery dead skin is sunscald caused by exposing the fruit
   to sun. It is most common if the plant has lost a number of leaves or has been exposed to severe
   winds. Fruit will not set below 60 °F or above 90 °F for sweet peppers.
• There are a number of viruses that infect peppers. Select varieties labeled as resistant. Some
   varieties are also resistant to bacterial leaf spot. Practice crop rotation. Do not plant a member
   of the nightshade family in the same spot two years in a row.
• Aphids may accumulate on the underside of the leaves. Look for a sticky substance called
   honeydew on lower leaves and fruit. Natural predators will provide some control. Aphids can
   usually be dislodged with a strong stream of water.

References
Growing Tomatoes, Peppers, and Eggplant in Minnesota Home Gardens, University of Minnesota
   http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/m1246.html
Peppers, University of Arkansas, http://www.uaex.edu/Other_Areas/publications/pdf/FSA-6015.pdf
Peppers, Iowa State University, http://www.extension.iastate.edu/Publications/PM1888.pdf



Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                   3/2011                    Page 49 of 94
Tomatoes, Peppers, and Related Plants

Eggplant (Solanum melongena)
Family: Solanaceae            Related vegetables: peppers and chiles, potato, tomatillo, tomato

Snapshot
• Tender (warm-season) perennial grown as an annual. The fruit is harvested.
• Eggplant, or aubergine, is available in varieties that produce large or small fruit. The fruit may
   be pear-shaped, round, or elongated and slender. The most common varieties have purple,
   white, or bicolor skin, but eggplants with green, red, or orange skin are also available.
• Plants of moderate height, about 3 ft.
• Eggplant is very sensitive to cold weather. Plant transplants 2 week or more after average last
   frost or when daily average temperate is 68 °F and the soil has warmed to 60 °F. A cold snap can
   stunt the plant. Plant transplants 18-24” apart in rows a minimum of 24” apart. Spacing within a
   wide row is 18”x18”. Plants will produce through the summer so repeat plantings are not
   necessary. You can plant as late as late June and still harvest a crop.
• Eggplant can be harvested when they are about 1/3 mature size until fully grown. Fruits ready for
   harvest are firm and glossy. You will need to cut the fruit off the plant. Typical maturity is 60+
   days after planting. Estimated yield per 10 ft row is 20 fruit.

Planting
• Eggplant likes warm weather. Don’t plant too early or the plants will stall and become stunted.
   Even a light frost will kill the plants. Two weeks after the average last frost date is the earliest
   you can plant.
• Purchase stocky transplants about 7” high with good color.
• You can start seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before transplanting by planting seeds 1/4” deep.
   Temperature optimum is 80-85 °F. Seedlings should appear in about 6 days. Grow on at 70-80 °F.
   Transplant into larger pots as the seedlings grow and give them good light so the plants stay short
   and stocky.

Care Notes
• Use a starter fertilizer at planting.
• Side-dress with 0.1 lb actual N/100 sq ft when first fruits set.
• Eggplants like it hot. They grow best when daytime temperatures are 80-85 °F, nights about
   70 °F. Flowering and fruit set stop below 65 °F.
• Provide consistent moisture by watering if rainfall is lacking. Eggplants need 1” of water a week
   for growth, up to 2” during fruit set. Lack of water during fruit set can reduce yield. Inconsistent
   moisture can lead to blossom-end rot.
• Eggplants usually do not need staking.

Harvesting
• Fruit harvested too early may contain solanine, a toxic compound. Fruit is still immature if it is
   hard and your thumb cannot make an impression. It is ripe if an indentation made by your thumb
   pressing into the skin springs back. If the fruit is spongy and your thumb print remains, it is
   overmature.
• Fruit size when harvested may be 1/3 to full size for the cultivar. It should be firm and the skin
   should be shiny.
• If fruit becomes dull, brown, or spongy it is too mature to eat. Remove it from the plant.

Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                  3/2011                   Page 50 of 94
•   If fruit is harvested on a regular basis, the plant will continue to bear until frost. Any fruit that
    has become over mature should be removed immediately.
•   The fruit stem is woody and perhaps spiny. Cut, don’t pull, the fruit off the plant. Leave about an
    inch of stem attached to the fruit.

Common problems
• Inconsistent or insufficient soil moisture or low temperatures can reduce yield.
• Eggplant is susceptible to verticillium wilt. Practice crop rotation. Do not plant a member of the
   nightshade family in the same spot two years in a row.
• Flea beetles chew tiny holes all over the leaves and can be a serious problem. Insecticides may
   be needed to control this pest. Colorado potato beetles can also be a problem. See information in
   the discussion of potatoes. Aphids and spider mites are an occasional problem and can often be
   controlled by removing them from the plant with a strong stream of water.

References
Growing Tomatoes, Peppers, and Eggplant in Minnesota Home Gardens, University of Minnesota
    http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/m1246.html
Eggplant, University of Arkansas
    http://www.uaex.edu/Other_Areas/publications/PDF/FSA-6010.pdf




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                   3/2011                   Page 51 of 94
Tomatoes, Peppers, and Related Plants

Tomatillo (Physalis philadelphica)
Tomatillo is a heat-loving plant just like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. It is harvested for its
fruit, a small, tomato-like berry contained inside a papery husk.
Put tomatillo transplants in the garden 2 weeks after the average last frost date. You can start seeds
indoors 3-4 weeks earlier. Give tomatillos plenty of space. The plant can grow to 3-4 ft high and
wide. They may profit from being staked or caged for support. Provide adequate moisture, about
1.5” a week. Tomatillo is a warm-season annual.
The first tomatillo is ready to harvest about 90 days after transplanting. The plant will continue to
yield until frost if the fruit is picked regularly. A single plant can produce 200 fruit.
Wait to side-dress, if needed, until after the first fruit sets.
Tomatillos are ready to harvest when the husk turns from green to tan. The berry should still be
green or just starting to yellow. Fully ripe fruit are yellow and may lose their typical tangy flavor.
Estimated yield per 10 ft row is 30 lb.
Fruit with the husk can be stored for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator; much longer if the husks are
removed. Before use, remove the husk and wash the sticky residue from the skin. Tomatillos are
used raw or cooked in salsa and sauces.
Tomatillos typically have few problems. Spacing to encourage air circulation and watering the soil,
not the leaves, will help prevent fungal leaf diseases. Practice crop rotation. Do not plant a member
of the nightshade family in the same spot two years in a row.

References
Tomatillos, Iowa State University
    http://www.extension.iastate.edu/Publications/PM1895.pdf
Tomatillo, University of Kentucky
    http://www.uky.edu/Ag/NewCrops/introsheets/tomatillo.pdf




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                      3/2011                 Page 52 of 94
Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes-Introduction
No matter where you are in the world, either potatoes or sweet potatoes will be an important food
crop. Potatoes prefer cool weather and are grown in temperate areas. Sweet potatoes require a long
growing season and do well in tropical and subtropical climates. Both potatoes and sweet potatoes
are large plants harvested for the underground storage organs they produce.


Links to specific vegetables
Potatoes (includes information on new potatoes and “straw potatoes”)
Sweet potatoes




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia               3/2011                  Page 53 of 94
Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes

Potato (Solanum tuberosum)
Family: Solanaceae                 Related vegetables: Pepper, tomato, eggplant, tomatillo

Snapshot
• Cool season perennial that is harvested completely each season. The edible portion is a tuber, a
   swollen stem.
• The common white-fleshed potato is often called an Irish potato. There are many different
   potato cultivars with different colored skin (red, light tan, dark brown) and flesh (yellow, pink,
   red, blue). You can get early, mid-, and late season varieties.
• Plants are moderate in height, about 2 ft.
• Always purchase certified “seed potatoes” (see below) for planting. Place each piece 10-12”
   apart, 2-3” deep in rows a minimum of 24” apart. Spacing within wide rows is 9-12”.
• Plant seed potatoes starting about 3 weeks before the average last frost date or when soil at
   planting depth has warmed to 45 °F. Do not plant into wet soil. There is no need for successive
   plantings because many potatoes store well. It is more important to plant early to take advantage
   of cool weather. Summer planting for a fall harvest is possible, especially with late-season
   varieties that store well. Time your planting so the potatoes are fully mature by the average first
   frost date.
• Early season varieties mature in 50-70 days but do not store well, late season varieties in 90-120
   days and do store well.
• Potatoes harvested before full maturity are called “new potatoes”. Harvest these small potatoes
   about a month before full maturity usually about a week after the plant has flowered. Early
   season varieties are usually preferred for new potatoes. See “Harvesting” below.
• When foliage dies back, potatoes are mature. Harvest at this time or allow the potatoes to cure
   in the ground for several weeks. If harvesting in late fall let the vines die with the first frost,
   then harvest about 2 weeks later but before a hard freeze. Estimated yield per 10 ft row is 30 lb.

Planting
• Potatoes are started each year by planting a small potato tuber. This tuber grows into the plant
   that will produce the season’s harvest. These small potatoes are called “seed potatoes.”
   Purchase seed potatoes from a reputable dealer. Certified seed potatoes will be disease-free.
   Select ones that are firm and have not sprouted.
• If the seed potatoes are small, 1.5-2 ounces, then plant the whole potato. Larger seed potatoes
   can be cut into several blocky pieces, each about 1.5-2 ounces or a 1.5” cube. Most references
   recommend allowing the cut edge to dry, then planting with the cut side down. Each piece
   should have an eye. This is a bud, which will produce the new stem of the plant.
• Do not use potatoes purchased at the grocery. They are treated with a chemical to keep the eyes
   from sprouting. Do not use potatoes saved from your previous year’s garden. They may be
   contaminated with disease pathogens.
• Potatoes need loose soil with good aeration and drainage. Add organic matter to clay soils in fall
   rather than spring to reduce incidence of the potato scab (a disease).
• Many gardeners make a raised bed for the plant as it begins it growth. Plant the seed potatoes as
   described above. After the shoot emerges from the soil, gradually make a wide mound of soil
   around the stem, up to 6” deep (this is known as “hilling up”). Don’t bury the growing tip. The
   potatoes will be in this raised bed, easier to harvest and less prone to rot in wet soils.



Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                 3/2011                   Page 54 of 94
Care Notes
• Potatoes need consistent soil moisture to ensure good tuber formation. Provide 1.5-2” a week if
   rainfall is inadequate. Mulch to conserve moisture, slow weed growth, and keep the soil cool.
   Tubers form best at soil temperatures between 60 and 70 °F. Tubers will not form if soil
   temperature is over 80 °F.
• Close spacing (24” between rows rather than 36”) will allow the plants to grow a canopy that
   covers most of the soil. This will help slow water loss and keep the soil cool also.
• Potatoes need a soil of good fertility. Follow soil test recommendations. Side-dressing is usually
   not needed except on sandy soils or if growth indicates a nitrogen deficiency. Some references
   recommend side-dressing (0.1 lb N/100 sq ft) at hilling when plants are 4-6” high.
• Potatoes flower and set fruit, just like tomatoes and peppers. The fruit is poisonous and the plant
   does not come true from seed. Cut off the flowers and fruit as you have time and inclination.

Harvesting
• Tubers begin to form at about the time of flowering. Flowering does not influence tuber
   formation, it is just a convenient way to estimate when tubers begin to form.
• Days to maturity: Early varieties 70 to 90 days, mid season varieties 90 to 120 days, late varieties
   120 to 140 days.
• Potatoes are ready to harvest when they are large enough for you to use, as small as 1” in
   diameter for baby potatoes. The deepest tubers develop first. With care you can dig into the
   mound, harvest the largest potatoes and leave the smallest to develop for later harvest. These
   “new potatoes” do not store well, so harvest only the number you can use in a week or two. You
   can continue to harvest periodically through the season, until the leaves have died back, if you
   are careful not to injure the plant.
• Potatoes are mature when foliage dies back. If you are ready to harvest but the tops are not
   dying back, simply cut them off. Harvest by removing the top growth and carefully digging out
   the potatoes. Harvest is typically in August or September for mid and late season varieties. You
   can leave the potatoes to cure in the ground for 2 weeks after the tops have died back. This
   allows the skin to harden which will reduce rot during storage. Do not leave potatoes in the
   ground if it is exceptionally warm and wet (tubers may begin to sprout or rot).
• Late plantings will mature near the first frost. The frost will kill back the tops but not damage
   the tubers. Dig the tubers about 2 weeks after the frost but before a hard freeze. Potatoes
   allowed to freeze in the ground will rot in storage.
• Late-season varieties store best. Be careful not to injure the skin while digging. Store in the dark
   at room temperature for several weeks. Skins should harden and become difficult to rub off with
   your thumb. Store over the winter in the dark between 38 and 40 °F with high humidity. Do not
   store cut, damaged, or diseases tubers. Do not store with fruit. Gas from the fruit (the plant
   hormone ethylene) makes potatoes sprout.

Additional Information
If you want perfectly shaped, easy to harvest potatoes, you might grow “straw potatoes”. Plant the
potatoes as described above but only 1” deep. When the shoot emerges, place straw 4-6” deep
around the plants and between the rows. The potatoes will form above the soil surface under the
straw. The straw conserves moisture but, more importantly, keeps the soil cool. When ready to
harvest, simply remove the straw and collect the potatoes.




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                 3/2011                   Page 55 of 94
Common problems
• The parts of a potato tuber exposed to sunlight will turn green. This is chlorophyll, which is
   harmless. Unfortunately a chemical called solanine also accumulates in this area. Solanine is
   bitter tasting and poisonous. Prevent the problem by mounding soil over the potatoes as they
   grow. Store harvested potatoes in the dark. Solanine can be removed by peeling and cutting away
   any green portions.
• Potato scab is a serious disease. It can be prevented by lowering soil pH to 4.8-5.2. Many soils in
   Indiana are calcareous and it will be impossible to lower pH this much. The best option is to
   select varieties that are scab resistant and grow the potatoes at normal vegetable garden pH,
   6.0-7.0. Other options to reduce potato scab include adding organic matter to the soil in fall
   rather than in spring and irrigating dry soils, especially as the plants are forming tubers (at
   flowering and for the next 6 weeks).
• Using only whole certified seed potatoes will help control several diseases including aster
   yellows. Practice crop rotation. Do not plant potato, tomato, pepper, or eggplant in the same
   area two years in a row.
• Late blight can devastate a potato planting, killing the plants in two weeks if conditions are
   right. It also infects tomatoes. This is the disease responsible for the Irish potato famine. Late
   blight is a fungal disease that causes dark, water-soaked spots on the leaves. Tubers can also be
   infected and will rot. Late blight is more common in cool, wet weather. Crop rotation, sanitation
   and avoiding overhead watering can help. A few late-season varieties are somewhat resistant to
   the disease. Fungicides can be used.
• Early blight can be a problem in hot humid weather. It usually infects older leaves on older plants
   causing dark circular spots. Late infections do not decrease yield but fungicide treatment may be
   warranted if symptoms occur before or at flowering. Some varieties are resistant.
• The Colorado potato beetle feeds on potatoes and related plants – tomato, eggplant, and pepper.
   It is the most serious insect pest of potato in Indiana and can completely defoliate the plant.
   Hand pick adults. Bt insecticides specific for Colorado potato beetle are available and effective
   when larvae are small. This insect can develop resistance to insecticides. Purdue Extension
   bulletin E-96, “Managing Insect Pests of Potato”, can provide more information.
• Hollow heart, the formation of a cavity at the center of the tuber, is a result of uneven growth
   caused by uneven soil moisture.

References
Potatoes, Purdue University
    http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/HO-62W.pdf
Growing Potatoes in the Home Garden, Cornell University
     http://suffolk-lamp.cit.cornell.edu/assets/Horticulture-Leaflets/Growing-Potatoes-
      in-the-Home-Garden.pdf
Managing Insect Pests of Potato, Purdue University
    http://extension.entm.purdue.edu/publications/E-96.pdf
Potato Pests, University of Kentucky
     http://www.ca.uky.edu/ENTOMOLOGY/entfacts/ef304.asp
Late Blight of Tomato and Potato, Purdue University
    http://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/BP/BP-80-W.pdf




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                3/2011                   Page 56 of 94
Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas)
Family: Convolvulaceae                    Related vegetables: none, related to morning glory

Snapshot
• Warm season perennial vine that is harvested completely each season. The edible portion is a
   tuberous root.
• Ornamental sweet potato vines are the same species as edible sweet potatoes but are not
   selected for flavor of the tuberous root. In the US, sweet potatoes are also called yams,
   especially if the flesh is orange. In other parts of the world, especially the tropics, yam refers to
   a completely different plant that produces large (70 pounds) tubers. It is a staple in many African
   diets.
• Plants are vines that cover the soil, only about 1 foot high. Bush type (also called bunch type)
   that spread only a few feet are available and more practical for a small garden.
• Purchase small plants called slips for planting. Plant 1-2 weeks after average last frost date. You
   need to plant by early June to allow time for growth, especially in the northern part of the state.
   Place transplants 12-18” apart in a mounded row about 8” high. Rows should be a minimum of
   36” apart. Soil should be at least 60 °F. Sweet potato plants will die if exposed to temperatures
   50 °F or below for an extended period.
• Sweet potatoes are ready to harvest 100+ days after planting. As soon as the foliage begins to
   yellow, cut it off, then carefully dig the tuberous roots. The roots need to be cured before
   storage to improve flavor (see “Harvesting” below). Estimated yield per 10 ft row is 12 lb.

Planting
• Most home gardeners will purchase small transplants (slips) to place directly into the garden.
• You can grow your own slips but you must be able to keep soil temperature between 70 and
   80 °F. To grow your own slips, purchase certified disease-free roots. Plant the roots about an inch
   apart and cover with 2” of sand or light soil. As a shoot begins to grow, add another inch of soil.
   Each shoot will grow to 6-8 inches and produce roots in about 6 weeks. Cut off each rooted shoot
   (the “slip”) and plant in the garden.
• Sweet potatoes like warm soil and warm weather. A mounded row (a ridge) will dry out more
   quickly in spring and the soil will warm more quickly. Plant the slip into the center of the ridge.
• Some references recommend using starter fertilizer containing phosphorus (5-10-10, 10-10-10) at
   or soon after planting.

Care Notes
• Sweet potatoes are generally easy to grow and need little care. Remove weeds when plants are
   small. Once established, they are drought tolerant and need only about an inch of water a week.
• In soils with good fertility, side-dressing is usually not necessary.

Harvesting
• Do not water the last 3 or 4 weeks before harvest.
• Harvest sweet potatoes before the first frost. The leaves should be starting to yellow. If a frost
   occurs, harvest immediately. Cut the vines from the roots to prevent decay. Soil temperatures
   below 50 °F will damage the roots.




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                  3/2011                    Page 57 of 94
•   Careful harvesting to avoid bruising, tearing the skin, or breaking the root is important. Place
    sweet potatoes in containers lined with soft material. Do not remove soil that clings to the roots
    if doing so will injure them. Do not save badly damaged or diseased roots.
•   Harvested roots can be used immediately but flavor will improve with curing at warm
    temperatures. The goal is to store the roots for 10 days in high humidity at 80-85 °F (2-3 weeks at
    65-75 °F). Maintain humidity by stacking and covering crates or placing the roots in a plastic bag
    with a few holes. Store them in a warm location – a warm room, near a furnace, or in a sunroom.
•   Cured sweet potatoes should be stored cool, 55-60 °F, and in the dark. Wrapping them in
    newspaper will protect them from injury. Chilling injury occurs at temperatures below 50 °F.
    Never store them in the refrigerator.

Common Problems
• Sweet potatoes have few pests. To reduce problems:
   - Select varieties with disease resistance
   - Purchase certified disease-free slips
   - Remove wild morning glories from neighboring areas and
   - Practice crop rotation.
• Sweet potatoes grow well in soils with pH of 5.5-6.5. Diseases are more common in soil
   of higher pH.
• Long, stringy roots are sometimes formed if soil fertility is high or if the soil is poorly drained, a
   common problem in heavy, clay soils.
• Handle harvested roots carefully and store them at the correct temperature. Any wound is a
   potential entry point for organisms that cause rot.

References
The Sweet Potato, Purdue University
   http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/HO-136.pdf




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                   3/2011                    Page 58 of 94
Sweet Corn (includes information on popcorn, baby corn)

Corn (Zea mays)
Family: Poaceae                                        Related vegetables: none

Snapshot
• Warm season annual. The ear, a long cob with seeds attached, is harvested.
• There are hundreds of different varieties of corn – sweet corn, field corn, popcorn, ornamental
   corn. You can grow corn that has different colored seeds (kernels) and that mature at different
   times. There are three general types of sweet corn – normal sugary, sugary enhanced, and
   supersweet. Unlike other vegetables, the seed is the edible part of the plant rather than the
   flesh of the fruit. See “Additional Information” below.
• Tall plant, to 6 ft, though early varieties may be shorter.
• Plant seeds directly into the garden, 1/2” deep in cool, wet soil, 1-1.5” deep in drier warm soils,
   2” deep in light, sandy soils. First planting can be made around the average last frost date if
   you’re willing to chance a lost crop. Planting later, 1-2 weeks after the average last frost date is
   a bit safer. The soil should be above 55 °F for normal sugary varieties, above 60 °F for sugary
   enhanced, and above 65 °F for supersweet varieties. Plant corn in several short rows rather than
   one long thin row. Plants should be 8-12” apart in rows about 30” apart. Spacing within a wide
   row is 12”x12”. Corn can also be planted in hills. Plant 5-6 seeds, thin to three plants per hill,
   space hills about 3 ft apart. Each plant produces one ear and perhaps a second smaller ear.
• Make successive plantings for continuous harvest all summer. Plan for the last planting to mature
   slightly before the average first frost date.
• Early varieties mature in about 60 days, late maturing varieties in 90. Ears mature about 20 days
   after the first silk strands appear. This is dependent on temperature. It will take longer in cool
   weather, less time in hot weather. Ripe corn has a green husk, dry brown silks, full-sized kernels
   that are fully colored at the tip of the ear, and kernels that release a milky liquid when they are
   punctured with your thumbnail.

Planting
• There are two factors to consider when planting sweet corn:
        1) Corn is wind pollinated and
        2) Most types of corn cross-pollinate.
    Because you eat the seed of corn rather than a fleshy fruit, the source of the pollen can
    influence the flavor of the kernels.
• When corn begins to flower, there are many tiny flowers on the cob. Each flower produces a
   single kernel of corn if it is pollinated. Pollen lands on the silks (which protrude out the tip of the
   husk-covered ear) and the flowers are pollinated. For all the kernels in an ear of corn to develop,
   every flower in the ear must be pollinated. Thus, to facilitate wind pollination, corn is usually
   planted in 3 or 4 short rows right next to each other, forming a square or rectangle, rather than
   in a single long row. If you plant several varieties, each one should form its own square.
• Because corn varieties cross-pollinate you must isolate your sweet corn from field corn, popcorn,
   and ornamental corn. Failure to do so will result in cross-pollination and kernels that taste
   starchy rather than sweet. You can isolate corn in space or in time. To isolate in space, separate
   varieties by at least 250 feet, preferably 400-500 feet. Try not to plant one variety downwind
   from another. To isolate in time, plant so maturity date for each variety is separated by at least
   14 days. When you do this, pollen of one variety is released before the silks of the other variety
   are produced and cross-pollination does not occur.


Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                   3/2011                     Page 59 of 94
•   You also need to isolate some types of sweet corn from other varieties of sweet corn. See the
    table below for more information (sweet corn types are described in “Additional Information”).
    White, bicolor, and yellow corn varieties do not need to be separated to maintain flavor.
    However, if cross-pollination occurs, the kernels will be yellow.

     Isolation requirements for sweet corn types.

             Sweet corn type                          Isolate from this type

    Yellow or bicolor                 White kernel varieties

    Yellow                            Bicolor kernel varieties

    Normal sugary                     Supersweets
    Sugar enhanced                    Supersweets

    Synergistics (triplesweet)        Supersweets

    Supersweets                       Normal sugary, Sugar-enhanced, Synergystics

    All sweet corn                    Field corn and popcorn
      Source: Growing Sweet Corn in Missouri, University of Missouri
              http://extension.missouri.edu/publications/DisplayPub.aspx?P=G6390

•   You will need to plant several times to have a summer-long supply of fresh corn. You can plant
    varieties with different maturity all at one time or plant several times throughout the summer.
    Since corn growth is very dependent on temperature, make your second, third, etc. planting
    based on the size of the previous planting rather than time since planting. Plant your next crop
    when the seedlings of the previous planting have 3 or 4 leaves.
•   Purchase fresh seed each year. Corn seed does not store well. Do not save seed from your own
    crop since you cannot control the cross-pollination that occurs and seedling quality will be
    variable.

Care Notes
• Side-dress corn with 0.1 lb actual N/100 sq ft when plants are 8-10 inches tall. Some references
   recommend a second side-dressing about 1 week after tassels appear.
• Corn needs a steady supply of water from flowering (when the silks and tassels appear) until the
   ear matures and is ready for harvest. Provide supplemental irrigation if needed to provide 1-1.5”
   of water a week.
• Some corn varieties produce side shoots called suckers. There is no need to remove the suckers.
   They do not reduce yield. There is some evidence the photosynthesis that occurs in the extra
   leaves increases yield.

Harvesting
• Early varieties mature in about 60 days, late maturing varieties in 90. Ears mature about 20 days
   after the first silk strands appear. Maturity dates are an estimate only. Actual days to harvest can
   vary from year to year dependent on the weather and garden growing conditions.
• Ripe corn has a green husk, dry brown silks, full-sized kernels that are fully colored at the tip of
   the ear, and kernels that release a milky liquid when they are punctured with your thumbnail.
   Corn remains at peak for a week or less, so check maturity frequently to make sure the kernels
   do not become over mature and starchy.



Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                    3/2011                 Page 60 of 94
•   Harvest by holding the plant with one hand and snapping off the ear with a quick downward push,
    twist, and pull. You do not want to tear the ear from the main stem or break the stem. Uninjured
    plants under good growing conditions may produce a second, smaller ear.
•   The sugar in normal sugary varieties quickly turns to starch. Eat as soon as possible after harvest.
    Both enhanced sugary and supersweet hold their sweetness and flavor for a longer time.
•   Remove the stalks from the garden after harvest and compost them.

Additional Information
• Corn is the only grass grown as a vegetable in the home garden. It is monoecious. The female
   flowers are in the ear. Each flower has a long style, called the silk, which emerges from the top
   of the husk. The male flowers are in the tassels held at the top of the plant.
• The number of sweet corn varieties increases each year. You can select normal sugary, enhanced
   sugary, supersweet or even the new triplesweet (synergistic) varieties. Which should you grow?
   - Normal sugary is the original sweet corn. The kernels have a creamy texture but they aren’t
       as sweet as enhanced sugary, supersweet, or triplesweet. Once picked, the sugar turns to
       starch very quickly. Pick and use immediately. If you must store them for a few hours, try to
       pick in the cool of the day and refrigerate the ears immediately.
   - Sugary enhanced has more sugar than normal sugary, with tender, creamy kernels. Because it
       has a higher sugar content, it can be stored for longer periods and still taste sweet. Because
       of the excellent flavor and texture of the kernels, sugary enhanced are the preferred
       varieties for the home garden.
   - Supersweet has three times the sugar of normal sugary. However, the kernels often have a
       tough coat, lack creaminess, and are missing the “corny” flavor of other varieties. They are
       inferior to other varieties for canning or freezing because of their texture. They do hold their
       sweetness for a long time, an advantage if they must be shipped long distances, but for the
       home gardener they can’t compete with sugary enhanced for flavor or texture. Because each
       variety must be isolated from every other variety of corn, they may also be more difficult to
       grow in a small home garden.
   - Triplesweets (synergistic) combine the flavor and texture of sugary enhanced with the ability
       to hold their sweetness for several days. These are fairly new to the market. Honey Select is
       an AAS winning variety.
• Baby corn is corn harvested while the ear is still small and before pollination occurs. You can
   grow any sweet corn variety to get baby corn or you may be able to find cultivars advertised for
   baby corn production. Some of these special varieties may produce several stalks, each producing
   several ears. Whichever variety you use, realize that growing baby corn takes almost as much
   space as growing regular corn. Baby corn should be 2-4” long and 1/3-2/3” in diameter at the
   base. Harvest 1-3 days after the silks become visible. With the varieties that produce multiple
   ears, you may be able to harvest every few days over several weeks.
• For popcorn, select a popcorn variety and grow it just as you would sweet corn. It takes most
   popcorn varieties over 100 days to mature. Allow the ear to dry in the field as long as possible.
   The kernels should become hard and the husk completely dry. Husk the ears and allow them to
   dry in a warm well-ventilated location. Periodically pop a few kernels. When they are popping
   well and tasting good, the corn has dried sufficiently. Remove the kernels from the cob and store
   in a sealed, airtight container

Common Problems
• Poor kernel development can result from poor soil fertility, poor pollination, or dry weather
   during flowering and ear filling.
• Birds may peck on the kernels. Raccoons may harvest whole ears.



Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                  3/2011                    Page 61 of 94
•   Stewart’s disease is a bacterial wilt spread by flea beetles. Control beetles early in the season.
    Grow resistant varieties. Most new sweet corn varieties are resistant.
•   Smut is a fungus that forms a black, greasy gall on the kernels. In Mexico, immature smut galls
    are an edible delicacy called cuitlacoche. Remove smut galls by breaking off the infected part of
    the ear. The rest of the ear is edible. Some varieties, especially white corn, are more susceptible
    to smut.
•   Corn ear worms are a yearly problem, worse in the latter harvests. The insect eggs are deposited
    on the silks and the tiny caterpillar move down the silks, under the husk, to the kernels. Feeding
    damage can occur in the upper half of the ear. Insecticides must be applied before the caterpillar
    enters the husk, usually several applications are needed. A tight rubber band or clothespin
    around the tip of the husk may keep them from reaching the kernels.
•   European corn borer can damage both ears and stalks. They are a problem on corn grown later in
    the season. One or two applications of insecticide 5 days apart when the tassels begin to emerge
    can control this pest. See Purdue publication E-21 “Managing Insects in the Home Vegetable
    Garden”, for more information.
•   Flea beetles can be a problem when plants are small. On non-resistant varieties, these insects
    can infect the plant with Stewart’s disease. Control with an insecticide.

References:
Growing Sweet Corn, Purdue University
    http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/HO-98.pdf
Sweet Corn, Iowa State University
    http://www.extension.iastate.edu/Publications/PM1891.pdf
Growing, Harvesting, and Storing Popcorn, Iowa State University
   http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/hortnews/node/1416
Baby Corn, Pacific NW Extension Publication
   http://cru.cahe.wsu.edu/CEPublications/pnw0532/pnw0532.pdf
Managing Insects in the Home Vegetable Garden, Purdue University
   http://extension.entm.purdue.edu/publications/E-21.pdf




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                 3/2011                    Page 62 of 94
Okra

Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus)

Okra, sometimes called gumbo, is the only commonly grown vegetable in the mallow family
(Malvaceae). It is related to hibiscus, hollyhock, and cotton. It is a warm-season annual that can
grow to a height of 5-6 ft, though some dwarf cultivars are available.
Okra is grown for its immature fruit called a pod. Okra begins producing fruit in 50-60 days and
continues to produce all summer.
Plant seeds 1” deep after soil has warmed to 65 °F, usually at least 7-10 days after the average last
frost date. Don’t delay planting if you want a long season of harvest but don’t plant into cold soil.
Soaking seeds overnight sometimes speeds germination. When seedlings are 3” high, thin to final
spacing – 12-24” apart in rows at least 24” apart. Spacing within a wide row is 12-18”. Seeds can also
be started indoors in individual pots.
Irrigate okra as needed. Okra is more tolerant of dry soils than other vegetables. Some references
suggest side-dressing with no more than 0.1 lb actual N/100 sq ft when plants begin to bloom and
about every 4 weeks thereafter. However, excess nitrogen will reduce flowering. If your plants are
blooming and producing well, you may not need to side-dress, especially in soils with good fertility.
Okra is best when the fruit is tender and immature, 2-3” long. The first fruit will be ready to harvest
in 50-60 days. An individual fruit is ready to harvest 4-6 days after pollination. If the stem is difficult
to cut, the fruit is probably too old to use. Inspect and harvest at least every other day. Remove any
over-mature fruit to encourage production of new flowers. Estimated yield per 10 ft row is 5 lb.
Okra is susceptible to verticillium and fusarium wilts and to southern blight. Practice crop rotation.
You may also have problems with aphids, Japanese beetles, and cucumber beetles.

Caution: okra plants are prickly – wear gloves when working with this vegetable.

References
Growing Okra in the Home Garden, Iowa State University
   http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/hortnews/2005/4-13-2005/okra.html
Okra, University of Arkansas
   http://www.uaex.edu/Other_Areas/publications/pdf/FSA-6013.pdf




                                                                                              Okra flowers clearly
                                                                                              reveal the plant’s
                                                                                              relationship to hollyhock
                                                                                              and hibiscus.

                                                                                              Pods grow straight up.
                                                                                              Harvest while they are
                                                                                              still small, only 2-3” long.
	
  	
                        	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  

Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                                        3/2011                  Page 63 of 94
The Leaf Crops – Introduction
A number of vegetables are grown just for their leaves, which are used raw in salads or cooked to
make greens. Most are cool-season vegetables that do best in spring and fall. The major leaf crops,
including two herbs, parsley and cilantro, are covered in this section. Collards and kale are covered
in the section on cole crops. Beet and turnip greens are sometimes eaten. These vegetables are
covered in the root crop section.

Mâche, or corn salad (Valerianella locusta), and radicchio (Cichorium intybus) are sometimes grown
in Indiana gardens. Because their culture is similar to lettuce, they are not covered separately. Note
that radicchio especially needs a constant supply of moisture for tender, flavorful growth.


Links to specific vegetables
Lettuce (all types)
Spinach (including New Zealand and Malabar Spinach)
Arugula
Endive and Escarole
Chard
Mustard
Celery and Celeriac
Parsley
Cilantro/Coriander




                                                    Most leaf crops can be harvested every
                                                    few days by removing just the oldest,
                                                    outer leaves. New leaves are produced
                                                    from the center of the plant, allowing for
                                                    a longer harvest period.

                                                    This is Swiss chard ‘Bright Lights’, which
                                                    produces stalks of many colors. All are
                                                    edible and are so attractive that the plant
                                                    is sometimes used as an ornamental.



Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                 3/2011                    Page 64 of 94
The Leaf Crops

Lettuce (Lactuca sativa)
Family: Asteraceae                   Related vegetables: endive and escarole, Jerusalem artichoke

Snapshot
• Cool season annual. Leaves are harvested before the plant begins to flower. Lettuce will bolt
   (begin flowering) with hot weather, long days, warm nights, or dry soil. Lettuce that bolts looses
   quality and may be bitter. Some varieties are more resistant to bolting than others.
• There are four common types of lettuce: looseleaf is ready for harvest in 40-50 days. It is the
   type most often grown in American gardens. Butterhead, also called Boston or Bibb, forms a loose
   head. Cos, or romaine, is a narrow upright plant more tolerant of hot weather than other lettuce.
   Cos and butterhead mature in 60-70 days. Crisphead, also called iceberg, is the most difficult to
   grow because it is extremely sensitive to heat and takes a long time to mature, 70-120 days.
• Short plants, about 1 ft in height
• Lettuce is cold tolerant and will withstand light to moderate frosts.
• Plant seeds outdoors 4 weeks before the average last frost date. Transplants started indoors
   about 3 weeks earlier can also be used. Soil should be 40 °F or warmer. Plant 2-4” apart for
   looseleaf lettuce, 6-8” apart for butterhead or cos. Minimum row spacing is 8”. You can plant
   several rows close together then leave a wider area as a path. Spacing within a wide row for leaf
   lettuce is 4-6”. Lettuce tolerates some shade, especially as the weather warms.
• If you will be harvesting the whole head, as is usually done with butterhead and cos, you will only
   get one head per plant. Make new plantings every 2 weeks as long as the weather is cool for a
   continual harvest (the last planting should be 4 weeks before the hot weather of summer begins).
   You can harvest in 4 weeks if using transplants, 7 weeks from seed planted in the garden. You can
   use this same strategy with looseleaf lettuce, replanting every two weeks. However, since no
   head if formed, you can also pick off the oldest leaves every few days and harvest each plant for
   a much longer time, until heat or a freeze destroys the crop. Estimated yield per 10 ft row is 5 lb
   of leaf lettuce, 15-24 heads of butterhead or cos lettuce.
• Resume planting in late summer, typically August. You can again plant every 2 weeks or so,
   timing harvest of the last planting for the average first frost date, though you will probably be
   able to harvest after that date. Protect lettuce with lightweight row covers if temperature
   threatens to dip into the upper 20s.

Planting
• Plant seeds 1/4-1/2” deep directly in the garden after the soil has reached 40 °F or start indoors
   for transplanting. At 60-75 °F, seedlings emerge in 2-3 days.
• If starting indoors, keep soil between 60 and 80 °F, then grow on at 55-75 °F.
• Small seedlings are easy to transplant 1-3 weeks after germination until they are half grown.
   When transplanting, try to keep the bottom leaves from touching the soil. They may rot if the soil
   stays wet.
• Late summer plantings can be grown from seed or transplants. However, lettuce seed does not
   germinate well if soil temperature is above 80 °F. Make sure to water if weather is dry to ensure
   germination and establishment. Some shade may be beneficial.
• Lettuce seed does not store well. Purchase fresh seed each season.




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                 3/2011                   Page 65 of 94
Care Notes
• Water if rainfall is lacking. Lettuce needs a constant supply of water, at least 1” a week.
• Late spring plantings may benefit from shading which will keep them cooler and delay bolting.
• Lettuce typically does not need side-dressing, though some references recommend side-dressing
   when plants are about 1/3 grown. Do apply a small amount of nitrogen fertilizer if growth slows
   or plant shows signs of nitrogen deficiency.

Harvesting
• The outer leaves of looseleaf lettuce can be harvested when they are large enough to be worth
   the effort and every few days thereafter until plant turns bitter and begins to bolt. You can also
   harvest the whole plant when it reaches maximum size, in about 50-60 days.
• Butterhead and cos varieties take longer to mature (60-70 days) and usually the whole head is cut
   off, though the outer leaves of butterhead can be harvested in the same way as looseleaf
   lettuce. The inner leaves of the butterheads may be blanched by the overarching outer leaves.

Additional Information
• Crisphead (iceberg) lettuce is more difficult to grow than other types of lettuce, especially in
   spring. An early planting is necessary so it matures before the first hot spell of summer. You can
   gain some time by starting seeds indoors and transplanting. Plant 4 weeks before average last
   frost date. Late summer planting for fall harvest are often more successful. Some shade may help
   keep the plants cool. Space plants 10-12” apart in rows at least 18” apart. It takes at least 70
   days for crisphead lettuce to reach maturity.
• Mesclun is the Provençal term for a mixture of very young lettuces and greens. In Europe these
   mixes have exacting proportions of chervil, arugula, lettuce and endive or other ingredients to
   produce a salad that includes every taste and texture sensation of bitter, sweet, tangy, crunchy
   and silky. Grow this mix as you do lettuce. Since you are growing several different species, don’t
   be surprised if the plants grow at different rates. Harvest by cutting the whole plant at 3” or
   grow to 4-5”, cut off the top 3” and allow the plants to regrow.
• A fifth type of lettuce is stem lettuce, also called celery or asparagus lettuce. The leaves are
   eaten early in the season. As it matures it forms a 2” thick stem crowned with a small tuft of
   leaves. This stem can grow to 18” and is tender and edible. You can let it grow until just before
   the plant bolts. Peel off the tough outer layer of the stem and eat cooked or raw. It is popular in
   Chinese cuisine.

Common Problems
• Lettuce can develop a bitter flavor as it begins to flower (bolt). Washing and storing the leaves in
   the refrigerator for a day or two should decrease the bitterness.
• Aphids may feed on the underside of the leaves. Wash off with a strong stream of water.
• Tipburn is caused by inconsistent soil moisture that results in a lack of calcium in the leaves
   (similar to the way that blossom end rot arises in tomatoes). The tip and edges of the leaves turn
   brown. To prevent, provide consistent moisture. Lettuce roots do not go deep into the soil so
   several light waterings a week may be more beneficial than one deep watering. Leaves with
   tipburn are edible, just cut off the brown portions.

References
Leafy Greens for the Home Garden, Purdue University
    http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/HO-29.pdf
Lettuce, University of Maryland
    http://www.growit.umd.edu/Vegetable%20Profiles/Lettuce.cfm



Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                 3/2011                   Page 66 of 94
The Leaf Crops

Spinach (Spinacia oleracea)
Family: Chenopodiaceae                                  Related vegetables: beet and chard

Snapshot
• Cool season annual, exceptionally cold hardy. Can tolerate temperatures to 20 °F. In southern
   Indiana, fall plantings may survive the winter and be harvested early the next spring.
• There are two types of spinach, one with flat leaves, the other with crinkly leaves (savoy type).
   Flat-leaved varieties are grown commercially because they are easy to clean. Home gardeners
   often grow the savoy type. Spinach bolts (begins flowering) in hot weather. “Longstanding” types
   are slower to bolt and are favored for spring plantings.
• Plants are short, about 1 ft.
• Spinach is hard to transplant, so place seeds directly into the garden. You can plant very early, 6
   weeks before average last frost date, and continue planting every 2 weeks until the average last
   frost date, perhaps a bit longer in northern Indiana. Plant repeatedly for a continual harvest
   since the whole plant is usually harvested, though you can pick just the outer leaves. Seeds
   germinate in 1-2 weeks depending on soil temperature. Sow thickly, then thin to 3-4” in rows a
   minimum of 12” apart. If you are harvesting the whole plant, you do not need to thin. Spacing
   within a wide row is 4”x4”. Spinach is somewhat tolerant of shade, especially in warm weather.
• Make summer plantings starting in July in northern Indiana, September in southern Indiana.
   Continue planting every two weeks until about a month before the average first frost date. Plant
   heavily. Spinach seed does not germinate well in warm soil.
• Spinach is ready to harvest in about 7 weeks from seed, usually when the plant has 5-6 leaves.
   Harvest the entire plant. Alternately you can pick the outer leaves. Estimated yield per 10 ft row
   is 5 lb.

Planting
• Spinach seeds will germinate in soil temperatures as low as 40 °F, in 10 days when soil has
   warmed to 50 °F. Plant as soon as the soil can be worked (usually about 6 weeks before the
   average last frost date).
• If you prepared the soil in the previous fall, you can even sprinkle seed over frozen ground or on
   top of snow.
• If planting in soil, place 1/2” deep.
• Purchase fresh seed each year since spinach seed does not store well.
• If you want to try to overwinter spinach for a very early season crop, plant 4 weeks before the
   average first frost date, mulch heavily with straw or leaves, and harvest in early spring. It will
   quickly bolt so don’t delay harvest.

Care Notes
• Spinach grows best in soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.8. Seed germination and plant growth is
   especially poor on more acidic soils.
• Water if rainfall is lacking, providing 1” of water a week. Roots are only 2” deep, so several
   shallow waterings may be more effective than one deep watering. Plants will tend to bolt if soil
   is dry. Spinach is tolerant of some shade, especially in warmer weather.
• Side-dress with 0.1 lb actual N/100 sq ft when plants are about 1/3 grown.




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                 3/2011                   Page 67 of 94
Harvesting
• Spinach is ready to harvest in about 40-50 days. You can harvest the whole plant, harvest a few
   plants early to thin the planting and allow the others to mature, or pick the oldest leaves of all
   the plants for several weeks. Harvest immediately if the plant begins to bolt.

Additional Info

•   New Zealand spinach (Tetragonia expansa) is not related to common spinach. Native to New
    Zealand, this tender annual grows weak, spreading stems 2-4 ft long. Its dark green leaves are
    smaller and fuzzier than regular spinach, but when cooked are virtually indistinguishable from
    the real thing. It thrives in summer heat and will produce all summer long. Plant seeds 1” deep
    after the average last frost date or start indoors for transplanting. Keep moist because the seeds
    are slow to germinate. Plant or thin to 12” in rows at least 24” apart. The plants can spread 4 ft
    or more. This vegetable needs no special care except irrigation if weather is dry. Harvest tender
    leaves and shoot tips about 3-4” long. This will encourage the plant to branch. It can also be cut
    back to force new growth. You can harvest until the first frost or remove from the garden when it
    is time to plant common spinach. Estimated yield per 10 ft row is 4 lb in one harvest.

•   Malabar spinach (Basella alba), also called red vine, creeping, or Ceylon spinach, is a perennial,
    frost-sensitive tropical vine native to India that grows best in moist, hot weather (above 90 °F). It
    has a flavor similar to traditional spinach (but don’t cook too long or it becomes slimy). Plant
    seeds or transplants 2-3 weeks after the average last frost date. It is usually grown on a trellis
    but can be allowed to sprawl on the ground if you have the space. Grow in moist, fertile soils
    high in organic matter. Keep constantly moist to prevent flowering. First harvest is 70-80 days
    from planting. The stems are tough so only the leaves are eaten. It will not do well if summer is
    cool (temperatures 80°F or less).

Common Problems
• Spinach is susceptible to air pollution injury. Ozone and sulfur dioxide will cause the leaves to be
   speckled and the edges of the leaves to die.
• Fungal leaf diseases can be a problem with overhead watering. A soaker hose will lessen the
   problem. Improving air circulation and planting on raised beds can also help.
• Cucumber mosaic virus is a blight disease that causes yellowing, stunting, and early death. There
   is no cure. Plant resistant varieties.
• If slugs become a problem, do not mulch around plants.

References
Leafy Greens for the Home Garden, Purdue University
    http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/HO-29.pdf
New Zealand Spinach in the Garden, Utah State University
    http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/publication/HG_Garden_2006-08.pdf
Malabar Spinach, Cornell University
    http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/homegardening/scene9529.html




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                   3/2011                    Page 68 of 94
The Leaf Crops

Arugula (Eruca vesicaria var. sativa)

Arugula has a biting, pungent taste, somewhat like horseradish. It is a strong flavor, so don’t
overplant. You may find it called roquette, rocket salad, or pepper. It is related to mustard and
cabbage. Like these members of the Brassicaceae, it likes cool weather. Arugula is an annual that
grows to 8-12”.
Plant transplants 3-4 weeks before the average last frost date, 6” apart in rows a minimum of 12”
apart. Spacing within a wide row is 4-6”. Start seeds indoors 4-5 weeks earlier, planting 0.5-1” deep.
Arugula is shallow-rooted and may need frequent irrigation if the weather is dry. Arugula needs
consistent soil moisture to produce tender leaves.
Harvest by pulling the whole plant in about 18 days when it has 4” leaves for “baby” arugula, cutting
just the outer leaves when they are 4” or larger for a more continual harvest, or removing the whole
plant when leaves are 10-12” (time to maturity varies between 30 and 50 days). It remains at peak
quality only a short time, so several successive plantings will ensure a continuous supply until the
weather turns hot.
Furry undersides indicate the leaf will be tough. If arugula begins to send up a flower stalk (bolt) as
hot weather arrives, harvest the whole planting. You can plant again in late summer - seeds indoors
or in the garden in early August, transplants before the end of that month.
Arugula has few pests. See insects listed under broccoli for potential problems. Flea beetles
especially can be a problem.

References
Arugula, Wisconsin Master Gardener Program
    http://wimastergardener.org/?q=Arugula




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                  3/2011                    Page 69 of 94
The Leaf Crops

Endive and Escarole (Chicorium endivia var. crispum and var. latifolia)
Endive and escarole are lettuce-like plants. Like lettuce, they are in the Asteraceae. Endive has
curled, frilly leaves; escarole has flatter leaves. Both are cool season vegetables, 12-24” tall, grown
in spring and fall.
Endive and escarole are ready to harvest in 80-100 days. Because they are sensitive to hot weather
and take so long to mature, endive and escarole are grown as a spring crop only in northern Indiana,
planted about 4 weeks before the average last frost date. They can be planted in summer for a fall
crop throughout the state.
Plant seeds directly into the garden or start transplants indoors a few weeks earlier. Plant 9-12”
apart in rows at least 18” apart. Spacing within a wide row is 9-12”. In northern Indiana you can
plant from 4 weeks before until 1 week after the average last frost date.
For a fall crop, plant in July. Your last planting should be about 2 months before the average first
frost date. Make sure to water these late plantings during the heat of summer.
Endive and escarole are very hardy and can be harvested throughout the fall months. These
vegetables need little care except watering if weather is dry. Side-dress lightly with a high-nitrogen
fertilizer if growth slows.
Plants can be blanched before harvest to give them a milder flavor and a yellow-white color. Tie
large outer leaves up over the head as you would for cauliflower or cover them for a week or two.
Make sure the head is dry before blanching. Wet heads will tend to rot if leaves are tied over them.
Begin harvesting 80-100 days after planting when heads are well-developed. Cut entire plant off at
the soil line and discard damaged leaves and any tough outer leaves. For spring plantings, harvest
immediately if weather turns hot. In fall, harvest if a hard freeze is expected. Estimated yield per 10
ft row is 6 lb.




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The Leaf Crops

Chard (Swiss chard) (Beta vulgaris var. cicia)
Chard is a cool-season biennial harvested the first year. It is a beet grown for its leaves rather than a
swollen root. It is tolerant of warm weather. A spring planting will thrive all summer and take you to
the first hard freeze.
You can find chard with green-white stalks or with red stalks. The variety ‘Bright Lights’ has stalks
that range from brilliant reds, to orange, peach, yellow, pink, cream, gold, and purple (see photo on
The Leaf Crops – Introduction page). All are edible. The plant can also be used as an ornamental and
grows 18-24” high. It will tolerate some shade.
Plant seeds 1/2-3/4” deep or plant transplants. You can start planting 2-3 weeks before the average
last frost date, when soil has warmed to about 50 °F, and continue planting through summer if you
desire. A spring planting will last all season if well cared for. Space plants 6-10” apart in rows a
minimum of 18” apart. Spacing within a wide row is 6–10”.
Side-dress with a bit of nitrogen if growth slows mid-season. Water if weather is dry. In fall, harvest
or protect if temperature threatens to dip into the upper 20s.
Chard can be harvested in two ways:
• Cut off a few of the large outer leaves of each plant, 1-2” above the soil, when they are 8-12”
   long. If you are careful not to injure the growing point in the center of the plant, chard will
   continue to produce new leaves until frost.
• Alternately, about 60 days after planting you can harvest the whole plant by cutting it off at the
   soil line. Estimated yield per 10 ft row is 12 lb.




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                   3/2011                    Page 71 of 94
The Leaf Crops

Mustard (Brassica juncea)
Mustard is an annual grown for its leaves, which are cooked to make “greens”. It is in the
Brassicaceae as are broccoli and cabbage. It is a cool-season crop that will bolt (begin flowering) and
become strongly flavored when hot weather arrives.
You may be able to find both curly and flat-leaved varieties. Both grow to 18-24”. Two other species,
B. nigra and B. hirta, produce the seed used to make prepared mustard.
Plant seeds 1/3 -1/2” deep, 2-4” apart in rows a minimum of a foot apart. Spacing within a wide row
is 6-9”. If you plant thickly, thin to the correct spacing and eat the small seedlings.
Begin planting 3 weeks before the average last frost date and make successive planting about every
10 days. Once heat arrives, harvest ends.
You can plant again in mid-late summer for fall harvest, timing the last planting to mature on the
average first frost date. Mustard will tolerate a frost. Protect if temperature threatens to dip into
the upper 20s.
Side-dress with 0.1 pounds actual N/100 sq ft when plants about one-third grown. Irrigate if rainfall
is lacking.
As with most leafy greens you can harvest by cutting a few of the outer leaves every few days or cut
the entire plant off at ground level (maturity is 40-50 days). Estimated yield per 10 ft row is 4-8 lb.
Cabbage worms can sometimes be a problem.




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The Leaf Crops

Celery and Celeriac (Apium graviolens var. dulce and var. rapaceum )
Celery is a member of the Apiaceae (the celery family), along with carrot, fennel, parsley, and
parsnip. It is difficult to grow in the home garden because it needs soil high in organic matter and
ample moisture to avoid stringiness. It is native to wetlands so it tolerates, actually requires, more
soil moisture than other vegetables. It is a biennial harvested the first season.
Celery is grown for its leaves, both petiole and blade. Celeriac is a different variety and is grown for
its enlarged tuberous root, about the size of a fist, that develops at the soil line. Both plants grow
about a foot high.
Celery and celeriac are grown the same way but different parts of the plant are harvested. The seeds
are tiny and take 2-3 weeks to germinate, so start them indoors 10-12 weeks before average last
frost date. Grow at 70-75 °F until germination, then at 60-70 °F. Harden plants by reducing water
slightly and plant out 1-2 weeks before the average last frost date.
You can plant as late as mid-April in southern Indiana, mid-May in the northern part of the state. In
spring, celery will take a light frost but not a moderate one. Though it survives cool weather, a
prolonged cold spell after planting (10 days with night temperatures below 40 °F and days below 55
°F) will cause the plant to bolt (flower) and the celery will be inedible. Space plants 6-12” apart in
rows at least 18” apart. Spacing within a wide row is 15”x15”.
Spring plantings are more common in the Midwest but you might try a fall crop planted in June or
July if you can provide ample water. Time planting so last harvest is on the average first frost date.
Plants growing in the heat of the summer will appreciate some shade.
Celery requires lots of water and nutrients during growth. Amend soil with organic matter and add
extra fertilizer. Celery may not grow well on heavy clay soils.
Supply 2” of water a week if rainfall is lacking. Side-dress at least twice during the growing season.
There are two types of celery, golden and green. The golden types are self-blanching but have
thinner, stringier stalks. Green types are more common. If you want to blanch them, tie the outer
leaves over the center, wrap the stalks with paper or other material such as a cardboard milk
container, or simply crowd the plants together in the row. If you are growing celeriac, use mulch or
soil to keep the shoulders of the root covered.
Celery is ready to harvest in 75-90 days after transplanting. Mature celery and celeriac can withstand
a severe frost. There is no set time to harvest but if you wait too long the outer stalks will be stringy
and tough. Estimated yield per 10 ft row is 8-13 lb.
Celeriac needs to grow for at least 120 days. You may harvest the root when it reaches 2” in
diameter but sweetness is enhanced by a frost. If you harvest after the first frost the roots will be 3-
5” in diameter.
You may also find seeds for cutting celery, a type of celery that has small stalks and looks like
parsley. It is easier to grow in the home garden and has a stronger celery taste than the stalk celery
available in groceries. Both stalks and leaves are eaten. Plant seeds or home-grown transplants in the
garden after the average last frost date. Space plants about 6” apart. Cutting celery grows to 12-
18”. Make sure to provide water if the weather is dry. Harvest as you do parsley and other greens,
cutting off just the large, outer stalks so the plant continues to produce.

References
Home Garden Celery in Eastern North Carolina, North Carolina CES
    http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-8027.html



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The Leaf Crops

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
Parsley is equally at home in the vegetable, herb, or ornamental garden. It is a biennial related to
carrot and parsnip (in the Apiaceae). The leaves are harvested the first year. Though the plant
usually survives Indiana winters to flower the next season, the leaves become tough and unpalatable
as the plant begins to flower.
Select curly parsley (used mainly as garnish) or flat leaved, Italian parsley (considered to have the
best flavor).
Parsley prefers full sun and soil that is fertile and high in organic matter. It is slow to germinate and
best started indoors 5-8 weeks before it is planted outdoors. Soak seeds in water overnight, then sow
in individual containers. Parsley develops a taproot and is difficult to transplant. Keep as much soil
as possible around the roots when transplanting. Seedlings can sometimes be purchased at garden
centers. Plant when weather is cool starting 1-2 weeks before average last frost date, spacing plants
8-12” apart. You can sow seeds directly into the soil as soon as it can be worked or grow parsley in
containers rather than transplanting seedlings into the garden.
You can begin harvesting leaves as soon as they are large enough to use. Cut off the oldest, outside
leaves if you want to continue harvesting for most of the summer and into fall.
Parsley is largely trouble-free. The most common best is the caterpillar of the eastern black
swallowtail butterfly. This caterpillar will also eat the leaves of Queen Anne’s lace, so try
transferring the caterpillar rather than eliminating it. You can also grow a few extra plants just for
the butterflies.

References
Growing Parsley, University of Minnesota
   http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/M1221.html




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The Leaf Crops

Cilantro/Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)
Cilantro is an herb in the Apiaceae (carrot family) that is commonly grown in vegetable and herb
gardens. This annual can be harvested both for its leaves, typically called cilantro, and its seeds,
typically called coriander. The leaves are a popular addition to salsa and guacamole. The seeds are
used in many different cuisines. This herb has been in cultivation for over 3,000 years.
Cilantro is a short-lived annual. If you want to harvest the seeds, select “Indian coriander” that goes
to seed in about 2 months. If you want leaves, look for varieties labeled as “Chinese” or “long
standing”. These will be listed as slow to bolt (flower).
Plant seed directly into the garden after the average last frost date. Germination is more rapid as
the soil warms. Cilantro forms a taproot that makes transplanting difficult.
Cilantro tends to flower and go to seed quickly, especially when soil temperature is above 75 °F.
Mulch to keep the soil cool. For a continual harvest of leaves, make additional plantings every 3
weeks except during the hottest part of the summer. Cilantro will tolerate a light frost.
If your plants begin to flower quickly, try growing cilantro in part shade.
Harvest the oldest leaves when they become large enough to use. You will be able to do this for a
few weeks but eventually the plant will start to flower and the leaves become tough, with little
taste. Alternately harvest the whole plant when it reaches 6” (40-50 days after planting) and replant
on a regular basis. The leaves do not store well, so plan to use them fresh.
If you are growing for seed, harvest the seed heads when they turn brown and hang upside down in
paper bags to finish drying.
If you allow some plants to go to seed you may find seedlings in your garden next spring.
Cilantro has few pests.

References
Cilantro, Iowa State University
    http://www.extension.iastate.edu/Publications/PM1893.pdf




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                   3/2011                   Page 75 of 94
Onions and Related Plants - Introduction
Onions, leeks, chives, and garlic all add a pungent flavor to food. They look like root vegetables but
they aren’t. The parts harvested and eaten are leaves or swollen stems.

Onions and leeks are biennials but most of the other onion relatives are perennials. Some, like chives
and Egyptian walking onions, can stay in the ground for several years. Others are harvested at the
end of the season. A small part of the stem (the clove of garlic, for example) is saved and planted
the next season.


Links to specific vegetables
Onions (includes green onions and pearl and boiler onions)
Chives and garlic chives
Garlic
Leeks
Shallots
Potato/Multiplier onions
Egyptian onions




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Onions and Related Plants

Onion (Allium cepa)
Family: Liliaceae, though some put it
         in its own family, Alliaceae                Related vegetables: garlic, chives, leeks, shallots

Snapshot
• Cool season biennial harvested at the end of the first season. The underground bulb is eaten.
• Onions can have white, yellow, or red flesh and be pungent or mild. Onions harvested when they
   are small are called green onions. Onion varieties may be short-day, long-day, or day-neutral.
   Long-day varieties are suitable for Indiana gardens. The day-neutral varieties are new and should
   also do well.
• Onions are moderate sized plants, about 18” tall.
• Plant onions starting 6 weeks before average last frost date. You can plant as late as May in
   northern Indiana, but earlier planting will yield larger bulbs that store better. Green onions can
   be planted any time during the growing season. You can plant seeds, sets, or transplants. Each
   produces only one bulb. See “Planting” for details.
• Onions do best when early growth is in cool weather and bulbs form in warm weather. Onions
   that will be stored (called “dry” onions) are grown as a spring-planted summer crop in Indiana,
   never as a fall crop. Onions are somewhat tolerant of shade.
• Green onions can be harvested in 40-50 days if grown from seed, 30 days from sets or transplants.
   Pull once plants reach 6” tall and are about as thick as a pencil. Larger plants are more pungent.
• Dry onions are ready to harvest in 3-5 months, after the tops have dried and bent over. After
   harvest, place them in a shady, dry, well-ventilated spot until they are thoroughly dry. Trim tops
   to 1”. Store cool but not frozen with good ventilation. Estimated yield per 10 ft row is 10 lb.

Planting
Selecting varieties. Onion varieties may be long-day, short-day, or day-neutral. This refers to the
day length that induces bulb formation. Short-day varieties begin bulb formation when days are 12-
13 hours long, very early in the season, just after spring equinox (March 20). On that date in Indiana,
onion plants will still be small, with few leaves. As a result, the bulbs formed will be small. Long-day
varieties begin forming bulbs later in the summer when days are 14-16 hours long. The plants are
large and form large bulbs. This is the preferred type of onion for Indiana.
Sweet onions (Walla Walla and Bermuda) are short-day onions. Plant transplants rather than seed so
plants are large before bulb formation begins. Sweet onions are not good storage onions.
Day-neutral onions are new. Bulbs begin to form once plants reach a certain size. They should do
well in Indiana.
Sets. Sets are very small onion bulbs (think of them as half-grown onions) purchased at garden
centers and by mail order. Plant and water them and green leaves will soon appear. One set
produces one onion. Purchase sets smaller than a dime in diameter if possible. These will form large
onions that store well. Sets larger than a dime in diameter have a greater tendency to bolt (flower
prematurely) before bulbs become large. They should be used for green onions rather than dry
onions. As the sets grow, the bulbs will change in shape. Round sets will form onions that are
flattened on top and bottom; elongated sets will form more spherical bulbs. Unfortunately, you may
not know the exact variety of the sets you purchase in a garden center.
Plant sets beginning about 6 weeks before the average last frost date until about mid-May. For green
onions place sets 1.5” deep and so close together they touch each other. For dry onions, place 1”
deep and 2” apart. Rows should be a minimum of 12” apart. Spacing within a wide row is 3”x3”.

Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                  3/2011                    Page 77 of 94
You may grow your own sets by planting seed the previous July. Seed thickly, place them ¼” apart in
one-foot wide rows and don’t thin. Before the first frost, bend the tops over. In a week, dig the
small bulbs and dry them thoroughly for several weeks in a shaded, well-ventilated location. Store
dry, dark and very cool (40 °F) over the winter and plant in early spring.
Transplants. Small onion plants can be purchased. These often produce the best storage onions.
You can grow your own transplants by starting seeds indoors about 8 weeks before anticipated
planting date. If they grow too tall, trim the tops to 3”. Make sure to keep the day length about 12
hours, not longer, so you do not induce bulb formation. Harden off and plant starting about 6 weeks
before the average last frost date until about mid-May. Space 1” for green onions, 2” for small bulbs,
up to 4” apart for large bulbs.
Seeds. Onions take a long time to grow from seed, so seeds are usually not planted directly into the
garden. Since one seed, set, or transplant makes only one green or dry onion, planting seeds is the
most economical. Plant them indoors and grow as transplants rather than seeding directly into the
garden (unless you are growing sets for next year). If you are growing only green onions, direct
seeding throughout the summer is fine. Temperature optimum for germination is 65-80 °F. Grow at
60-70 °F with night temperatures less than 55 °F.

Care Notes
• Onions grow best in loose, well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter. Fertilize before
   planting based on a soil test but don’t skimp on the phosphorus and potassium. Onions are
   somewhat tolerant of shade.
• Side-dress transplants with 0.1 lb actual N/100 sq ft 2-3 weeks after planting, before June 1
• When green onions are 4” high, you can mound soil loosely around the base up to 1” in depth.
   This will blanch the lower portion of the plant and make the white portion longer. Do not mound
   onions you are growing to maturity for storage.
• Provide 1-2” of water a week if rainfall is lacking but do not keep the soil soggy. Too much water
   (and too much fertilizer) will delay maturity and produce soft bulbs that do not store well. Too
   little water may increase pungency.
• If the plant begins to flower, harvest and use immediately. Bulbs formed from a flowering plant
   do not store well.

Harvesting
• Onions are edible at any stage. However if you are harvesting for storage, you must pay attention
   to stage of development, harvest them carefully, and dry thoroughly (cure) before storage.
• Onions are mature and can be harvested for storage when the tops fall over. This does not
   happen at exactly the same time for all plants. Wait until the tops of at least two-thirds of the
   plants (preferably more) have fallen over, then harvest all the onions at one time.
• Dig onions carefully, trying not to bruise or puncture them. Harvest the whole plant, don’t cut off
   the tops.
• Onions must be dried before storage. Spread them out to dry in a well-ventilated area protected
   from sunlight. Don’t stack the plants on top of each other. You can also place on a screen or hang
   in small bunches to facilitate airflow and speed drying. This may take 2-3 weeks.
• Once the onions are fully dry, you can cut off all but an inch of the tops (do not cut flush with
   the bulb) and store them in a dark, dry place. Temperature should be below 40 °F but they
   should not be allowed to freeze. Above 40 °F the bulbs will probably sprout.
• Onions will not store well if:
   -    The plant has flowered.
   -    It is a sweet, short-day variety.
   -    If harvested before maturity. Green onions should be stored refrigerated, use within 7 days.
   -    If the onion has formed a thick neck rather than a narrow one that dries well.

Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                 3/2011                   Page 78 of 94
   -    If the top is cut off flush to the bulb, creating an opening for disease organisms.
   -    The tops are broken over before the bulb is fully mature. These onions do not dry properly.
   -    If soil was hilled up around the plant before harvest.

Common Problems
• Onions will bolt (begin flowering) if they are exposed to extended cold after planting (so don’t
   plant too early) or if the sets are too large at planting.
• Various fungal diseases can infect onions. Crop rotation will help control them. Some varieties
   are resistant to Fusarium basal rot.
• Feeding by onion thrips can reduce yield and kill seedlings. These insects are more often a
   problem if your garden is near a field of small grains. Some onion varieties are resistant to thrips.
   Thrips are usually found between the leaves and may be difficult to eradicate.
• Onion maggots burrow into and feed on the onion bulb. They are more of a problem in northern
   Indiana than in the southern portion of the state. These insects can kill seedlings and injure the
   bulb, reducing storage life. Crop rotation and good sanitation (removing all onion bulbs and
   leaves from the garden at the end of the season and removing all nearby wild onion plants) will
   help. Row covers used immediately after planting will help keep the adult from laying eggs near
   your onion plants. Onion maggots have 2 or 3 generations a year. Controlling the first generation
   with row covers will control later populations also.

Additional Information

Green Onions
Small slender onions with a white base – green onions – are in every grocery. You may also hear them
called scallions, spring onions, bunching onions, even Welsh onions, depending on your location. In
some areas, “scallion” refers to the plant called shallots by others.
Green onions (as defined above) may be grown from just about any of the onions and onion relatives
described here. To make them a green onion, just plant close together and harvest when they are
still small.
One species, Allium fistulosum, always produces long slender plants with, at most, a small swelling
at the end. It is a perennial, grown from Siberia to the tropics. There are bunching (several small
bulbs together in a clump) and non-bunching types. They are common in oriental cooking. Some are
even known as Japanese bunching onions. This is the species also known as “Welsh” onions. The
name derives from the German word “welsche” meaning foreign and has nothing to do with Wales.
Allium fistulosum is hardy to at least zone 6, perhaps 5. Grow as you would common garden onion. If
you want a longer white portion, 5-6 inches or more, mound soil loosely around the plant as it grows.
Harvest by digging up the clump, removing some of the stems and replanting. You can also divide and
replant single stems to create new plants in another location.
Pearl and boiler onions
These onions are ordinary garden onions planted densely and harvested when the bulbs are small. In
the north they may be short-day onions. Because these short-day onions begin to form bulbs when
the plant is still small (early in the summer as day length reaches 12-13 hours), the bulbs formed are
small.

References
Onions and Their Relatives, Purdue University
     http://www.hort.purdue.edu/hort/ext/Pubs/HO/HO_067.pdf
Onions, Garlic, and Shallots, Virginia Cooperative Extension
     http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/426/426-411/426-411.html
Allium fistulosum, Floridata, http://www.floridata.com/ref/A/alli_fis.cfm


Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                  3/2011                    Page 79 of 94
Onions and Related Plants

Chives and Garlic Chives (Allium schoenoprasum and Allium tuberosum)
Both chives and garlic chives are perennials harvested for their leaves, which grow to about a foot.
They produce small bulbs but these are not eaten.
Chives produce purple to pink flowers in early summer. Garlic chives has white flowers in late
summer. Deadhead to prevent reseeding.
Chive flowers are edible. Harvest just as they begin to open, picking them regularly to encourage
repeat blooms. Chive flowers have a mild onion flavor and do not dry well. Break apart the florets
and add to salads, eggs, and other dishes.
Both chives and garlic chives are easy to grow and very hardy, to zone 3. Both can be grown indoors
as houseplants and harvested during winter. Simply dig a small clump after a freeze and pot up.
You can start these perennials from seed but you may also find small plants at garden centers or
receive a division from a friend. Space plants about 12” apart in sun or part shade after danger of
frost is past. Start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks earlier.
You can start harvesting when plants are 6 inches tall. Cut down to 2 inches as needed and use the
leaves fresh. It is not necessary to cut off all the leaves in a clump. Cutting leaves from part of the
clump and leaving the rest ensures you can harvest more in just a few days. If you cut off all the
leaves in a clump you won’t be able to harvest again for several weeks.
Do cut frequently to encourage new bulbs to form and encourage tender new growth. Side-dress
lightly twice during the growing season if you are harvesting frequently.
Divide plants every 2 or 3 years in spring or fall to prevent overcrowding.

References
Chives, University of Illinois
    http://urbanext.illinois.edu/herbs/chives.cfm
Chives, North Carolina State University
    http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-124.html




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                   3/2011                    Page 80 of 94
Onions and Related Plants

Garlic (Allium sativum)
Garlic produces a bulb that has many individual cloves, each made of two leaves and a vegetative
bud.
Garlic is a perennial that grows to 1-2 ft. It is harvested completely at the end of each growing
season.
Most garlic varieties do not flower. These are known as softneck varieties. They produce the largest
bulbs and store well.
A few varieties, known has hardneck, produce a scape (a flower stalk) that may flower or produce
small aerial bulbs known as bulbils. These are the most cold hardy varieties. To maximize production
of hardneck types, remove the scape as it begins to curl (they can be eaten). These varieties do not
store as well as softneck varieties.
Garlic needs loose soil with consistent moisture and high fertility. Use 3 lb 10-10-10 or equivalent per
100 sq ft.
Garlic needs a cold season to produce the largest bulbs so it is often planted in October (like
ornamental spring-flowering bulbs). Roots will form that fall, then leaf growth begins as the soil
warms in early spring. Bulbs begin to form with the long days of June. Plants that are large in June
will produce large bulbs; small plants will produce small bulbs. If you must plant in spring, plant as
early as you can (March) to maximize growth prior to June.
Immediately before planting, break the garlic into cloves. The largest cloves will produce the largest
bulbs. Purchase bulbs grown for planting in the vegetable garden, not those grown for eating found
in the grocery, which may be treated to prevent sprouting. Plant each unpeeled clove upright, 1-2”
deep and 3-6” apart in rows 12” apart in October or in early spring. Spacing within a wide row is
5”x5”. Mulch plantings to conserve moisture and control weeds, which can overtake a garlic planting.
Harvest garlic when tops begin to die down but have 5 green leaves remaining, usually July or
August. Plants mature enough to harvest should have cloves that are clearly visible and easily
separated but that have not split the outer sheath. The transition is fairly rapid (about 2 weeks), so
monitor development once the leaves start to die back. Bulbs with a split sheath are more difficult
to harvest and do not store well.
Dry garlic well in a dark, airy place before storage. Estimated yield per 10 ft row is 4 lb.
Pests that attack garlic are those that bother onions.
Elephant garlic is a type of leek that produces very large bulbs but does not store well. Grow it as
you do garlic.

Reference
Growing Garlic in Minnestota, University of Minnesota
    http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/cropsystems/dc7317.html




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Onions and Related Plants

Leeks (Allium ampeloprasum)
Leeks are a biennial harvested at the end of the first year of growth. Instead of forming a bulb, the
leaves form a thick basal column.
Leeks grow slowly from seed and are usually placed in the garden as transplants. You can plant leek
transplants starting 4 weeks before and continuing to the average last frost date, as the days begin
to warm a bit (reaching into the mid-40s each day). Start seeds indoors in February for transplants.
They need at least 8 weeks of growth before transplanting.
Plant 3-5” apart in rows at least 12” apart. Spacing within a wide row is 3-6”. Due to the time
needed to grow to maturity, leeks are usually only planted in spring.
To make the basal column white, begin blanching when the stem becomes as thick as a pencil. Draw
soil loosely around the base as the leaves grow. Leeks will grow to 2-3 ft.
You can harvest leeks throughout the summer and use as green onions. Full-sized leeks are ready to
harvest in about 120 days from seed, 80 days from transplants, after the basal column has reached a
diameter of 1-1.5”. The blanched portion of the basal column may be 6-8” long. Remove the whole
plant and cut off the roots and all except 2” of the green leaves. Dig before a hard freeze and store
in the refrigerator. You can also mulch the planting heavily with straw then harvest later in fall and
in winter whenever the ground is not frozen. Harvest by the end of March before the leek begins to
send up a flower stalk. Estimated yield per 10 ft row is 7-14 lb. Each transplant yields one leek.




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                 3/2011                    Page 82 of 94
Onions and Related Plants

Other Onion Relatives

Shallots (Allium cepa var. aggregatum)
Shallots are perennials harvested completely at the end of each growing season. They are a type of
onion that forms a bulb with multiple sections. A papery skin divides and surrounds each section.
Immature plants are harvested as green onions and, in some parts of the country, all green onions
(small slender onions with a white base) are called shallots. In other parts of the country shallots are
known as potato or multiplier onion. In fact, shallots and multiplier onions are closely related, with
shallots gaining distinction for having a reddish papery skin and a more distinctive and delicate flavor
favored in French cuisine.

Shallots are almost always grown from a section of a bulb. The plants often do not often flower and
produce seed. Plant 2-4 weeks before the average last frost date. Plant each section so the tips are
just covered, 4-6” apart in rows at least 12” apart. Plants will grow 1-2 ft in height. The clump of
shallot bulbs often forms above ground. Do not cover these bulbs with soil.

For dry storage bulbs, harvest as you do dry onions. If you are growing for green onions, mound soil
loosely around the plant to blanch the lower portions of the leaves. Harvest when plants are 6-8” tall
and at least the thickness of a pencil.

Potato/multiplier onions (Allium cepa, Aggregratum group)
These onions are similar to shallots but produce more rounded bulbs. They can be very prolific, one
bulb producing 10-12 bulbs of varying sizes by the end of the season. They almost never flower.
Potato onions are not common and may be considered heirloom varieties. Grow as you would other
onions. From a clump of bulbs of varying sizes, replant the largest bulbs next year, eat or store the
small and medium sized bulbs. They store well. Once established, you can grow enough to both eat
and provide bulbs for next season’s planting.

Egyptian Onion (Allium cepa var. proliferum)
Also known as tree onion, topsetting onion, Egyptian walking onion or Catawissa onion, this perennial
member of the onion group produces large hollow leaves and grows to 2-3 ft. Instead of a flower
cluster, it produces a stalk with small bulbs, called bulbils, on top. The leaves, bulbils, and
underground bulbs are all edible. You can plant bulbils or divisions in spring or fall. Leaves can be cut
and used as green onions, especially early in the season. Bulbils are harvested in summer as they
begin to dry. These plants “walk” across your garden because the stalk with heavy bulbils on top will
tend to fall over. The bulbils will root and produce a new plant away from the parent plant. This new
plant will repeat the process.




                            This is the “flower head” of an Egyptian onion.
                            There are a few flowers but also small bulbs called
                            bulbils. They can be eaten or separated and
                            planted to produce new plants.



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The Cucurbits - Introduction
The vegetables in the Cucurbit family – cucumbers, all squashes, and melons – are almost all large,
vining, sprawling plants. Don’t underestimate the space they will take in your garden. You can still
grow these in a small garden, though, by selecting bush or dwarf varieties or training the vines on a
vertical support.


Links to specific vegetables – please read General Information on Cucurbits (below) first
Cucumber
Summer squash
Winter squash
Pumpkins
Muskmelon and other melons
Watermelon
Gourds
Chayote squash


All cucurbits are similar botanically and are grown in a similar way. General information about these
vegetables is covered in this introduction. Details of growing the individual plants (planting depth,
harvesting, etc.) are covered in the listing for each plant.


General Information on Cucurbits
•   You will find varieties that are vining, sprawling plants and others that are compact and bushy.
    Vining plants are about 1 ft high; bush varieties about 3 ft high.
•   Cucumber, squash, and melons are all warm-season annuals grown for their immature fruit
    (cucumber, summer squash) or mature fruit (winter squash and melons). They are monoecious
    (each plant has both male flowers and female flowers). Early in the season, each plant produces
    only male flowers. Later in the season, both female flowers (that produce fruit) and male flowers
    (that provide pollen) are produced. The typical cucumber plant first produces 10-20 male flowers
    before producing a female flower. If the plant is stressed or if days are long and temperatures
    high, the plant will produce more male flowers than female. As the season progresses and
    temperatures cool and days are shorter, male and female flowers will be produced in about equal
    numbers. (You can tell male and female apart by appearance. Female flowers have a short stem
    and what looks like a miniature fruit below the petals; male flowers have long stems and no
    miniature fruit).
•   Female flowers must be pollinated, by pollen from the same or a different plant, if they are to
    produce fruit. Because these vegetables are closely related and similar in appearance, the
    question of cross-pollination between varieties and species arises. Plants of different varieties of
    the same species can cross-pollinate without affecting the fruits’ taste or appearance. The flesh
    of the fruit is made only of plant material from the female parent. Thus, if a female yellow
    crookneck flower is pollinated by pollen from a green zucchini, the edible part of the fruit will
    still be yellow crookneck. However, the plants grown from the resulting seeds will exhibit a
    mixture of the characteristics of both parents; they will be neither yellow crookneck nor green
    zucchini but a hybrid of both.
    Take home message: don’t worry about different cucurbits cross-pollinating. The fruit will be
    fine. Don’t save the seeds because you have no way of knowing the source of the pollen and what


Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                  3/2011                    Page 84 of 94
    characteristics the new plant will have. The table below gives species information for common
    cucurbits.
•   Because pollination is necessary for fruit development, incompletely pollinated flowers will
    produce malformed fruit. Bees are usually responsible for flower pollination, so anything that
    decreases their activity, such as cool weather or insecticides, can decrease pollination. If you
    must use insecticides, apply them when bees are not active.
•   Though the fruit is most commonly eaten, male squash and pumpkin flowers are edible and can
    be battered and fried (female flowers are left on the vine to develop into fruit). Pumpkin and
    squash seeds can be roasted, salted, and eaten as a snack. Some pumpkins, the “naked-seeded”
    varieties, have seeds without a hard coat that are perfect for roasting.

Cucurbit common/scientific name cross-reference
The more unusual vegetables listed here can be grown in the same way as squash, muskmelon, and
the other cucurbits.
          Species                                       Common varieties
Citrullus lanatus          Watermelon
Cucurbita maxima           Very large pumpkins such as ‘Big Max’ and ‘King of the Mammoths’;
                           Hubbard, Delicious, and Golden Turban squash; Aladdin and Turk’s
                           turban ornamental squash
Cucurbita mixta            Pumpkins, many considered heirloom varieties, often with striped or
                           white skin and light flesh, e.g. white cushaw and Tennessee sweet
                           potato; Kabocha squash
Cucurbita moschata         Pumpkins with tan skin such as ‘Dickinson Field’ and “Golden Cushaw’;
                           butternut squash; Calabaza
Cucumis melo               Most melons – muskmelons, cantaloupe, honeydew, Crenshaw, Casaba;
                           Armenian or snake cucumber, also oriental sweet melon
Cucumis sativus            Cucumber - gherkin, pickling, slicing, burpless, Chinese, and seedless
Cucurbita pepo             Most common large, pie, and naked seeded varieties of pumpkins;
                           zucchini squash; yellow crookneck and straightneck squash; scallopini
                           and patty pan squash; acorn squash; many gourds.
Lagenaria ssp.             Very small fruit is eaten and known as cucuzzi, mature fruit is a
                           hardened gourd, 3’+ in length
Luffa spp.                 Immature fruit is eaten and known as Chinese okra, mature fruit can be
                           used to make a luffa sponge
Momordica charantia        Bitter melon
Sechium edule              Chayote squash


Planting Cucurbits
• All of the cucurbits thrive in warm days, warm nights, and full sun. Seeds can be planted directly
   into the garden but do not germinate below 60 °F and higher soil temperature is preferred. Seeds
   are sometimes pre-treated with fungicides such as thiram or captan to prevent disease problems
   in cooler soils. Black plastic is often recommended when growing cucurbits, to help the soil warm
   faster in spring. Put it down in spring as you put in your cool-season vegetables. If the plastic you
   choose is not water permeable, you will need to place a soaker hose or other type of irrigation
   under the plastic.
• You can get a head start on the season by starting seeds indoors. These seedlings are not as easy
   to transplant as those of other vegetables, so some care is needed. Start seeds only 2-3 weeks
   before outdoor planting date. Each plant should be in its own container since the roots resent
   disturbance. Grow warm. Optimum germination temperatures are between 75 and 95 °F for most
   cucurbits. Grow on at 70-80 °F.


Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                  3/2011                    Page 85 of 94
•   Transplants can also be purchased. Look for stocky plants with no evidence of disease or insect
    pests. Do not purchase plants with yellow leaves, which indicate the transplant has been
    stressed.
•   Both homegrown and purchased transplants should have no more than 3 fully expanded true
    leaves when planted.
•   Don’t plant too early. Wait until soil has warmed and temperatures are reliably over 50 °F. The
    earliest you should plant is about a week after the average last frost date. You can plant as late
    as early June in northern Indiana, mid-July in southern Indiana. As long as the soil is warm,
    earlier planting is recommended. Cucumbers and summer squash can produce all summer long.
    Some varieties of pumpkin and winter squash may need a long growing season to fully mature.
•   Both seeds and transplants can be planted in rows, but they are often planted in hills, with 2-3
    plants per hill and the hills spaced 4-8 ft apart. If using seeds, plant 5-6 seeds per hill and thin.
    Note: The word “hill” gives the impression of a raised area but a raised mound is usually not
    recommended because the soil dries out quickly. A “hill” is an area where several plants are
    grouped together. Hills are widely spaced, giving the plants ample room to grow.
•   Use a high-phosphorus starter fertilizer at planting.
•   If you are not using black plastic, mulch after planting to help retain soil moisture and slow soil
    temperature changes.




                                                           This is a hill planting. Several seeds are
                                                           planted in a small area. After
                                                           germination, the planting is thinned to
                                                           2-3 seedlings per hill.



Care Notes for Cucurbits
• Side-dress around the base of the plants with 0.1 lb actual N/100 sq ft one week after flowering
   begins (or when the vines begin to run on vining types) and again 3 weeks later.
   Exception: do not side-dress watermelon.
• Make sure to remove weeds as the vegetable plants become established. Mulch will help control
   weeds as well as help retain soil moisture. Once the plants begin to produce long vining stems,
   the leaves will shade the soil and reduce weed growth.
• Plants should receive at least an inch of water a week, provided all at once to wet the soil 6-8”
   deep. Consistent soil moisture is important, especially for development of the fruit. Irrigate
   during a dry spell. Avoid wetting the leaves if at all possible (for example, by using a soaker
   hose). If using a sprinkler, water early in the morning so leaves can dry. Watermelons are tropical
   plants and more tolerant of dry soil than the other cucurbits and need watering only during
   prolonged dry periods.




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                    3/2011                    Page 86 of 94
Harvesting Cucurbits
Please also see information on individual vegetables. Cucumbers and summer squash are harvested
when the fruit is immature (not fully grown and rind not yet hard). These plants will produce all
summer if fruit is picked regularly and not allowed to mature on the vine. Pumpkins, winter squash,
and all melons are harvested when the fruit is mature.

Common problems of Cucurbits
You will have more disease and insect pest problems with the cucurbits than with other vegetables.
Cultural problems: misshapen fruit due to poor pollination or low soil fertility; cracking and slitting,
especially of melons, if heavy rains occur during ripening; poor flavor due to cool, wet weather, low
soil fertility (especially potassium), or picking too early.
Insects:
    - Cucumber beetles, which damage seedlings and small plants by feeding on leaves and stems
        and also on maturing fruit. They are responsible for spreading the disease bacterial wilt.
        Control with row covers until flowering begins.
    - Squash vine borers enter the lower stem of squash and pumpkins, feed, and destroy the
        vascular system. If detected early (look for “sawdust” at base of plant) stems can be slit open
        and the insect removed and killed. Mound soil up around the damaged stem to encourage new
        roots to form and keep plant watered. Row covers before flowering can provide some
        protection but only if cucurbits were not planted in the same area last year. Good cultivation
        can destroy pupa, which overwinter in the soil. Later plantings (late June/early July)
        sometimes escape damage. Pumpkin and most squash are susceptible, butternut squash is
        resistant. Insecticides applied to the lower stem will work if timed to just before and
        throughout the egg laying period (before early July).
    - Squash bugs feed on leaves, stems, and fruit. They can kill small plants and spread Yellow
        Vine Decline. Hand pick, or place a board on the soil near the plants. Bugs will congregate
        under a board during the night and can be killed the next morning. Insecticides, if used,
        should be applied as soon as the insects are noticed to prevent an even larger infestation
        later in the season. Make sure to treat both sides of the leaves.
Diseases: bacterial wilt spread by cucumber beetles (some varieties are resistant, watermelons do
not get this disease); downy and powdery mildews; various leaf spot diseases, viruses, fruit rot, and
several other diseases. When possible, plant resistant varieties. Avoid working with the plants when
leaves are wet. Crop rotation can help as will a good clean-up at the end of the season. Fungicides
may be required for control.

References
Growing Cucumbers, Melons, Squash, Pumpkins and Gourds, Purdue University
    http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/HO-8.pdf
Growing Cucumbers, Peppers, Squash And Tomatoes In Containers, Ohio State University
    http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1645.html
Growing Cucurbits, Pennsylvania State University
    http://horticulture.psu.edu/files/hort/extension/cucurbits.pdf
An IPM Scouting Guide for Common Problems of Cucurbit Crops in Kentucky, University of Kentucky
    http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/id/id91/id91.pdf




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                   3/2011                    Page 87 of 94
Cucumber
Please see General Information on Cucurbits for additional information.

•   You can grow vining or bush cucumbers. Vining varieties can be trained on a vertical support.
    Varieties for pickling produce small cucumbers with thin skin. Slicing cucumbers are larger and
    are used fresh. “Burpless” cucumbers have tender skin that lacks bitterness. They will be straight
    rather than curved if grown on a vertical support.
•   You may find hybrids that produce only female flowers, called gynoecious hybrids. They produce
    more fruit than standard cucumber varieties and all the fruit matures at about the same time.
    Seed packets of these hybrids usually contain seeds of normal cucumber varieties for cross-
    pollination.
•   Parthenocarpic varieties develop fruit without pollination and produce fruit with no seeds. These
    plants can be covered with floating row covers early in the season to reduce insect problems
    (remove covers as weather warms so plants do not overheat). If pollination does occur, seeds will
    be produced.
•   Plant seeds 0.5-1” deep. Final spacing should be 12-24” apart in rows a minimum of 4 ft apart.
    For hill planting there should be 3 plants in hills spaced at least 3 ft apart. Plants on vertical
    supports should be 12” apart, supports at least 2.5 ft apart.
•   The first fruit produced by bush cucumbers is ready to harvest in about 50 days, vining varieties
    in about 60 days.
•   Cucumber fruit grows quickly once pollination occurs. Cucumbers for pickling are usually
    harvested when 2” in length, about 4-5 days after pollination. Slicing cucumbers are harvested
    when 6-8” long, about 15-18 days after pollination. Burpless cucumbers should be 1-1.5” in
    diameter and no more than 10” long. Some varieties will get much larger if not harvested. Make
    sure to harvest regularly, removing any large fruits you missed, so flowering will continue. If
    pests are controlled, cucumber plants will continue to produce all summer. Estimated yield per
    10 ft row is 10 lb.
•   Sometimes cucumbers become bitter. Bitterness is stronger at the stem end of the cucumber.
    The chemicals that cause bitterness (and the “burp”), Cucurbitacin B and Cucurbitacin C, are
    found in and under the skin, so peeling the cucumber may improve flavor. Bitterness is usually
    associated with environmental factors, occurring when plants are stressed by low moisture, high
    temperatures, or poor nutrition. Some varieties have more tendency toward bitterness than
    others. Once environmental conditions improve, newly formed cucumbers will be less bitter. If it
    is a continuing problem in your garden, try varieties advertised as burpless or bitter-free.




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                 3/2011                   Page 88 of 94
Summer Squash
Please see General Information on Cucurbits for additional information.

•   Common varieties include those that produce straight green fruit (zucchini, cocozelle, caserta),
    yellow fruit, such as crookneck or straight neck, and scalloped fruit such as scallopini or patty
    pan that are often white
•   Most summer squash varieties are bush type plants rather than vines.
•   Plant seeds 1” deep, 24-36” in rows at least 30” apart. If planting in hills, plant 3 plants in hills 4
    ft apart.
•   Summer squash are harvested when the fruit is immature, while the skin and flesh is still tender.
    Plants will continue to produce new flowers and fruit if harvested regularly, providing squash
    throughout the summer.
•   Once pollination occurs, summer squash is ready to pick in 4-8 days. If you don’t inspect the
    plants every day or two, the squash will quickly grow too large. Flowering may decrease. If you
    find an overmature fruit, pick and discard it.
•   Harvest the elongated varieties (e.g. zucchini, crookneck) when they are less than 2” in diameter
    and 6-8” long. Scalloped types should be 3-4” in diameter. If the rind is too tough to be marked
    by a thumbnail, it is too mature for the table. The first fruit is ready to harvest 40-50 days from
    seed. Estimated yield per 10 ft row is 60 fruit (about 15 lb).


Winter Squash
Please see General Information on Cucurbits for additional information.

•   Winter squash fruit is harvested when it is fully mature. It stores well over winter (hence the
    name). It is usually baked or made into pies. Vining, semi-vining, and bush varieties are available.
    Acorn, butternut, hubbard, Turk’s turban, and cushaw are types of winter squash.
•   Plant seeds 1” deep. For bush varieties, space 24-36” apart in rows 6 ft apart. Vining winter
    squash require 50-100 sq ft per hill. For vining varieties allow 5-6 ft between hills with 2-3 plants
    and at least 7 ft between rows. For semi-vining varieties, thin to 2 plants per hill, 4 ft between
    hills, 8 ft between rows.
•   Harvest as you do pumpkins, when color is deep and the rind is hard. Protect from a light freeze
    (cold weather improves flavor) but harvest before a hard freeze. Leave 2” of stem. Fruit which
    has been cut, bruised, or frozen will not keep. Store dry at 50-55 °F. Do not pile more than 2 fruit
    deep. Each plant should produce several fruit.
•   Winter squash matures in 85-100 days from seed. Once pollination occurs, fruit matures in 60-90
    days depending on variety. Estimated yield per 10 ft row is 10 lb.




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                    3/2011                    Page 89 of 94
Pumpkin
Please see General Information on Cucurbits for additional information.

•   There are many varieties of pumpkin, even several species (see the table in General Information
    on Cucurbits). Grow the small ones (called pie pumpkins) for cooking, the large ones for cooking
    and carving, jumbo varieties for county and state fairs, and naked-seeded varieties for roasted
    seeds (these varieties bear large, hull-less seeds).
•   Plant seeds 1” deep, final spacing for bush varieties is 24-48” in rows 6 ft apart. Vining pumpkins
    require 50-100 sq ft per hill. For vining varieties allow 5-6 ft between hills with 2-3 plants and at
    least 10 ft between rows. For semi-vining (semi-bush) varieties, thin to 2 plants per hill, 4 ft
    between hills, 8 ft between rows. For miniature varieties, plant in rows, 2 ft between plants, a
    minimum of 6 ft between rows.
•   Pumpkins are ready to harvest when they are a deep, solid color. Different varieties may be
    orange, tan, white, or striped, so know how your variety should look. The rind should be hard.
    You can cover pumpkins to protect them from a light frost, but make sure to harvest before
    heavy frosts. Pumpkins harvested afterwards will not keep.
•   Harvest carefully so the fruit is not injured. Cut the pumpkin from the vine using a sharp knife or
    pruning shears, leaving 3-4” of stem attached. Store dry at 50-55 °F. Estimated yield per 10 ft
    row is 40 lb.
•   Most varieties mature in 100-110 days. Jumbo pumpkins (Cucurbita maxima varieties) take 120
    days to mature. Once pollination occurs, pumpkins will ripen in 65-90 days, depending on variety.
    You will get only one or two large pumpkins per plant. Miniature pumpkins (about 3” in size) may
    yield a dozen pumpkins per plant.




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                   3/2011                    Page 90 of 94
Muskmelon and other melons
Please see General Information on Cucurbits for additional information.

•   The muskmelon of the garden produces the fruit called “cantaloupe” in the grocery. True
    cantaloupe, with a hard, warty rind and green flesh, is not often grown in the US. Muskmelon
    (the grocery’s cantaloupe) has a netted rind.
•   Honeydew, Crenshaw, and Casaba are grown in the same way as muskmelon but take much longer
    to mature. If you are gardening in northern Indiana, even the early maturing varieties may not
    ripen before a frost.
•   Plant seeds 1” deep. Final spacing is 18-24” in rows at least 4 ft apart. If planting in hills, place 2
    plants in hills every 3 ft or 3 plants every 4 ft. Rows are still 4 ft apart.
•   Too much or too little rain during ripening can impact fruit quality and integrity. Irrigate if
    rainfall is lacking. Melons prefer drier, rather than wetter, soil as they near maturity.
•   Fruit is heavy enough that it should be supported if plants are grown on a vertical support. Slings
    made of nylon stockings or cheesecloth work well.
•   Each plant should produce several fruit. Early muskmelon varieties mature in about 70 days, most
    in 80-90 days. Honeydew matures in 85-95 days, Casaba Golden Beauty in 110. Once pollinated, a
    muskmelon takes 42-46 days to ripen.
•   Muskmelons are ripe when the rind between the netting turns from green to tan or yellow. Gently
    lift the melon. The stem should separate easily from the fruit (sometimes the word “slip” is used,
    for example, the fruit should “slip” the vine). Estimated yield per 10 ft row is 10 melons.
•   Honeydew and Crenshaw are cut from the vine when they have turned completely yellow. If kept
    at room temperature they will continue to improve. They are fully ripe when the blossom end
    (non-stem end) is soft to pressure.
•   Harvest early in day when plants are dry. Check the fruit frequently as it nears ripeness, every
    other day early in the season, every day later on.




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                    3/2011                    Page 91 of 94
Watermelon
Please see General Information on Cucurbits for additional information.

•   By selecting different varieties you can grow watermelons that weigh only 6 pounds and others
    that weigh in at 22 pounds.
•   You can also grow seedless watermelons. The seeds for these melons are produced by crossing a
    variety with 4 sets of chromosomes with one that has 2 sets of chromosomes (2 is the normal
    number). The resulting seed (with 3 sets of chromosomes) will germinate, grow, and flower but,
    after pollination, only a few soft seeds form in the developing fruit. The seedless variety does not
    produce viable pollen so a second, seeded, variety must be planted nearby. If you plant a seeded
    variety that has a different color or shape, you will be able to tell the fruits apart once
    harvested. Most packets of seedless watermelon seed have a few seeds of a seeded variety
    included. You can tell the seeds apart before planting by size – the seedless variety has the larger
    seeds.
•   Watermelon will tolerate a slightly lower pH than other cucurbits, growing well at pH between
    5.5 and 6.8.
•   Plant seeds 1” deep. Plant watermelons 24-48” apart in rows 6 ft apart. If growing in hills, hills
    should be 6 ft apart, in rows at least 7 ft apart with 3 plants per hill.
•   Watermelons are a tropical species and are more tolerant of heat and drought than other
    commonly grown cucurbits.
•   Large watermelons take longer to mature, 120 days for the larger ones, compared to 70-80 days
    for smaller ones. Once pollination occurs, the fruit matures in about 42-45 days.
•   Harvest watermelons when they are fully ripe. Estimated yield per 10 ft row is 4-10 melons.
•   Use a combination of the following four indicators to determine when watermelons are ripe:
    1. The light green, curly tendrils on the stem near the point of fruit attachment turn brown and
        dry. Some varieties may do this 5-10 days before the fruit is fully ripe.
    2. The surface color of the fruit loses its slick appearance and turns dull.
    3. The skin becomes rough and you can penetrate it with your thumbnail.
    4. The cultivars that are predominantly dark green will turn a buttery yellow on the ground side.
        Lighter melons will also turn yellow, but not as deep as darker melons.
•   Store watermelons cool but not cold, then put them in the refrigerator to cool just before eating.




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                  3/2011                    Page 92 of 94
Gourds
Please see General Information on Cucurbits for additional information.

•   The commonly grown gourds belong to three genera – Cucurbita, Lagenaria, and Luffa. They are
    most often grown for their ornamental mature fruit though very small immature fruit is edible.
    The Cucurbita types are most common, are very colorful, and come in unusual shapes. The
    Lagenaria type are typically called bottle or dipper gourds. Luffa are made into sponges.
•   Grow gourds as you do other cucurbits.
•   Plant seeds 1” deep, less if seeds are small. Plant in rows or hills (2-3 plants per hill). Plants or
    hills should be at least 6-8 ft apart.
•   Immature gourds can be eaten. Harvest about 1 week after flowering.
•   Gourds need a long growing season. Days to harvest varies greatly with variety and can be
    between 100 and 180 days.
•   Gourds are ready to harvest when the stems dry and turn brown. The rind should be thick and
    hard. If you squeeze the gourd between your fingers, there should be no give. Harvest mature
    gourds before frost. Cut from the vine and leave a few inches of stem attached.
•   The exception is the Luffa or sponge gourd. Harvest after the vines are killed by a frost.


Reference
Gourds, Purdue University
   http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/HO-135.pdf




Purdue Master Gardener Vegetable Encyclopedia                    3/2011                    Page 93 of 94
Chayote
Please see General Information on Cucurbits for additional information.

•      Chayote is cold-sensitive, perennial cucurbit, sometimes called chayote squash or alligator pear,
       grown for its small, light green fruit. The fruit is solid when harvested rather than hollow like
       winter squash. It is popular in Central America and Asia. Grow it as an annual in Indiana.
•      Chayote can be allowed to sprawl on the ground but it is usually grown on a vertical support.
•      Purchase a chayote at the grocery and plant the whole fruit at a 45 degree angle with the small
       end up. If your soil is a bit poorly drained, you may have better luck starting the seed indoors to
       avoid overwatering from early summer rains. Plant seeds or seedlings outdoors 8-10 ft apart near
       the vertical support after danger of frost is past. One or two well-grown plants will feed most
       families.
•      Provide water if rainfall is lacking but do not keep the soil soggy. Heavy nitrogen fertilization will
       cause leaf growth at the expense of flowering.
•      Chayote is frost sensitive and may be hard to grow successfully in Indiana. The vine begins to
       flower 3-5 months after planting. Fruits mature in about 35 days after pollination. They are firm
       and green when ripe.

	
  




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